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Biotech Medicine Science

Antibody Discovered To Boost HIV Vaccines 144

An anonymous reader sends this clip from "Scientists have discovered two potent human antibodies that can stop more than 90 percent of known global HIV strains from infecting human cells in the laboratory, and have demonstrated how one of these disease-fighting proteins accomplishes this feat. ... Research efforts to find individual antibodies that can neutralize HIV strains have been difficult because the virus continuously changes its surface proteins to evade recognition by the immune system. As a consequence of these changes, an enormous number of HIV variants exist worldwide. However, there are a few surface areas that remain nearly constant across all variants of HIV and scientists have now discovered two potent human antibodies that attach to one of these sites and can stop more than 90 percent of known global HIV strains from infecting human cells in the laboratory. ... The researchers also confirmed that VRC01 does not bind to human cells — a characteristic that might otherwise lead to its elimination during immune development, a natural mechanism the body employs to prevent autoimmune disease."
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Antibody Discovered To Boost HIV Vaccines

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  • by beschra ( 1424727 ) on Friday July 09, 2010 @01:31PM (#32852504)
    But I have to wonder if the region that doesn't normally morph will start morphing if it starts being targetted. HIV is a tough little bugger. Very borg-like.
  • Not the mechanism (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aepervius ( 535155 ) on Friday July 09, 2010 @01:43PM (#32852648)
    It won#t start suddenly morphing. What will happen, is that the strain which DO morph will be selected for, as they will more easily spread, than the one stopped by this antibody. But I would not put my hope too high. "In laboratory" means in-vitro. A lot of stuff works in vitro, but never pan out.
  • So... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 09, 2010 @01:45PM (#32852676)
    I understand this is a great achievement in preventing the spread of the disease, but won't the long-term effect just be that the 10% of the virus that's unaffected becomes 100% of what's spreading?
  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Friday July 09, 2010 @01:55PM (#32852790) Journal
    Although I find what you suggest unlikely, one thing for sure, if 90% of the HIV population is eliminated, the other 10% will fill its niche. That is the nature of natural selection. Not even a creationist will deny that point.
  • Re:So... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spazdor ( 902907 ) on Friday July 09, 2010 @01:58PM (#32852812)

    That's a great outcome. Remember, the people who have a strain of HIV from the other 90%, aren't going to get re-infected with one from the 10%. They will just be rendered effectively uncontagious.

    It's a one-time thing, to be sure; the resistant strain will spread at the same rate of growth - but it will do so from a severely stunted starting point.

    Assuming this works, it means a one-time epidemiological "rewind" - suddenly we'll have the much lower HIV rates we had 30 or 40 years ago, but we'll have the knowledge and preparedness of today. Imagine if we could use 2010's pharmaceuticals to nip the epidemic in the bud back then!

  • Re:Pshhh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Friday July 09, 2010 @02:01PM (#32852844) Homepage Journal

    Yes, that explains why AIDS treatments have been getting better and cheaper.

  • by Jeng ( 926980 ) on Friday July 09, 2010 @02:01PM (#32852850)

    If you cure 90% of those with HIV you have also reduced the possible spread of infection by 90%.

    Eventually that 10% may swell to pre-vaccine ( if this pans out ) levels, but it would take decades for HIV to get back up to the level of infection it is at today ( if this pans out ).

  • by Haffner ( 1349071 ) on Friday July 09, 2010 @02:10PM (#32852952)
    What that really depends on is whether multiple strains infect the same individual. If, as you suggest, each individual is infected by 1 strain, then this solution indeed would cure 90% of the population (assuming it works). However, if each individual is infected by 500 strains, this solution will cure a tiny fraction of 1% of the population.
  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Friday July 09, 2010 @02:12PM (#32852990) Journal
    Eh, as long as we're talking about infection rates and cure speeds, you should also note that they aren't going to cure 90% of those with HIV (or vaccinate everyone so those 90% of HIV strains stop spreading). The vaccination rate will be slow, not instantaneous, and it will give time for the other 10% of strains to fill the void. How many lives are saved depends on how quickly the vaccination moves out, how many people get it, and how quickly the other strains spread.

    Incidentally, condoms work so well at preventing HIV from spreading that if everyone used them, the propagation rate of HIV would likely be dropped below a sustainable level, and AIDS would disappear. In Nevada brothels that use condoms, HIV rates are quite low.
  • by Nadaka ( 224565 ) on Friday July 09, 2010 @02:50PM (#32853424)

    The thing about an antibody treatment is that it is theoretically possible to actually cure someone someone with HIV.

    If the antibodies are sufficiently effective they prevent the existing viruses from infecting new cells and eventually the body will run out of previously infected cells.

    At that point the person would be cured.

  • And the news is... ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mortiss ( 812218 ) on Friday July 09, 2010 @03:01PM (#32853558)

    I fail to see the hype. There are plenty of great anti-HIV antibodies which are well described. These have a great cross-reactivity to many HIV strains and are directed against very conserved regions of envelope proteins. The trouble lies that no one so far has been able to find a way to produce them in a patient's body in large amounts. In addition, it is well known that Ab response is not really the way to go. Current HIV vaccines designs are moving towards inducing a innate immunity responses and also focus on T-cell not B-cell mediated immunity.

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva