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A family of rare, highly potent antibodies bind to HIV and stop it from infecting human cells. This could be the basis of a vaccine against AIDs. This morning at the American Chemical Society meeting in Philadelphia, Ian Wilson of the AVI Neutralizing Antibody Center at The Scripps Research Institute gave a press conference about the antibodies, which target sugars.
Biology isn’t my area of expertise, but from what I understand, HIV coats itself in sugars, which help to hide it from our immune systems. But the density of sugars is so high that scientists were able to use that as a target for finding HIV. They neutralize a lot of different strains of HIV, and they work at low doses. Wilson has been characterizing the antibodies. It grabs hold of the sugars to two or more sugars at a time, penetrate though the sugar shield to the virus inside. The researchers are now thinking about how they can use this to create an HIV vaccine.
text copyright Yvonne Carts-Powell, 2012. Contact me for permission to reprint. Or feel free to link to this post.