An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Inquisitr: The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) announced this week that a "remarkable" breakthrough has been made in the study of preventing and treating the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that leads to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), according to a press release posted on the agency's official website. The breakthrough centers around the discovery of a powerful antibody named N6 that is highly effective in both binding to the surface of the HIV virus and neutralizing it. The former has proved elusive in the past. "Identifying broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV has been difficult because the virus rapidly changes its surface proteins to evade recognition by the immune system," the press release explains. The antibody was initially discovered in an HIV-positive person and has since proven to potentially neutralize 98 percent of HIV isolates, "including 16 of 20 strains resistant to other antibodies of the same class," according to the press release. Researchers have had previous success with other antibodies, but N6 appears to be more effective. The new discovery has potential benefits far beyond preventing and treating HIV as well. Studying exactly how N6 works could potentially lead to breakthroughs in other anti-viral antibodies. "Findings from the current study showed that N6 evolved a unique mode of binding that depends less on a variable area of the HIV envelope known as the V5 region and focuses more on conserved regions, which change relatively little among HIV strains," NIAID explains. "This allows N6 to tolerate changes in the HIV envelope, including the attachment of sugars in the V5 region, a major mechanism by which HIV develops resistance to other VRC01-class antibodies. Due to its potency, N6 may offer stronger and more durable prevention and treatment benefits, and researchers may be able to administer it subcutaneously (into the fat under the skin) rather than intravenously. In addition, its ability to neutralize nearly all HIV strains would be advantageous for both prevention and treatment strategies."