22 October 2012

South Africa: Scientists Discover HIV Neutralising Antibodies

Photo: Kate Holt/IRIN
File photo: The discovery of the potent antibodies are referred to as broadly “neutralising antibodies” because they kill a wide range of HIV types from different parts of the world. It is largely recognised as being key to finding a vaccine against the virus.

Johannesburg — Medical research on two women living with HIV has found that they developed antibodies which were able to kill at least 88 percent of the virus.

"The women developed a neutralising antibody that was able to destroy at least 88 percent of the virus in their bodies," said Professor Salim Karima of the Center for the Aids Programme of Research in SA.

"This important information about the complex relationship between these antibodies and HIV and may help in the development of a future HIV vaccine."

One woman joined the research team in 2005, while the other joined in 2007.

The research team is led by National Institute for Communicable Diseases scientists Dr Penny Moore and Professor Lynn Morris.

"Understanding this game of 'cat and mouse' between HIV and the immune response of the infected person has provided valuable insights into how neutralising antibodies arise," said Moore.

The women's antibodies were also tested against 200 other viruses from across the world and were found to be able to neutralise them.

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