A new study published in the on line journal Nature Medicine over the weekend brings exciting news in the race to find an AIDS vaccine. Researchers from the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) have found that a key change in the outer coating of the HIV virus allowed two HIV positive women to develop “broadly neutralizing antibodies,” which are antibodies that can be used to target and fight most strains of HIV.
The first broadly neutralizing antibodies were discovered over three years ago, and since then dozens more have been identified. But until now, researchers haven’t been able to pinpoint how they develop, which is critical to developing a vaccine. The new findings establish a link between a change in the virus after infection and the formulation of the antibodies that fight it.
According to Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the study is “an important step in trying to understand just how these broadly neutralizing antibodies evolve.”