A major step forward in the search for an AIDS vaccine?

Posted on 04 Sep 2009 at 9:19am

According to reports published today in the LA Times, scientists with the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., have discovered antibodies that can prevent HIV from multiplying in the body and producing severe disease.

The researchers say they have isolated “two so-called broadly neutralizing antibodies that can block the action of many strains of HIV,” the Times report says.

The scientists say ta crucial part of the discovery is the fact that the neutralizing antibodies target a portion of HIV that hasn’t been previously considered in the search for a vaccine, and that the target is a relatively stable section of the virus that “doesn’t participate in the extensive mutations” that have allowed HIV to thwart antiviral drugs and experimental vaccines.

This is big news folks. It’s not a vaccine, and there’s certainly still a lot of work to be done before this antibodies can be developed into a widely effective tool in the war against AIDS.

But as Dr. Seth F. Berkley, president and chief executive of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, said, it opens up whole new vistas of possibilities.

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