Antibodies Protect Human Cells from Most HIV Strains

Publication Information: 
http://www.nih.gov/researchmatters
Publication Date: 
19 July 2010

: Scientists have isolated 2 potent human antibodies that can stop more than 90% of known global HIV strains from infecting human cells in the laboratory. The finding may help researchers design more effective HIV vaccines. It may also help advance other strategies for preventing or treating HIV infection.

Most vaccines work by triggering the immune system to produce antibodies that help beat back infections. This strategy hasn't been successful in defeating HIV. Proteins on the surface of HIV mutate rapidly and change shape continuously, preventing most antibodies from latching onto and neutralizing the virus.

Researchers have recently found antibodies that can neutralize multiple strains of HIV-1, the virus responsible for the HIV/AIDS pandemic. These antibodies bind to a specific, virtually unchanging region on HIV’s surface spikes—the structures that help the virus attach to and infect immune cells. Much attention has focused on a surface spike protein called gp120, which fastens onto the CD4 binding site on the surface of immune cells.

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