Some very powerful new antibodies capable of fighting effectively against HIV have been identified by U.S. researchers, according to a study published Wednesday in the British journal Nature, thus opening new perspectives for obtaining a vaccine against AIDS.
Antibodies are immune defense weapons against infectious agents, viruses and bacteria.
But the great variability of HIV, caused by its many and rapid mutations, allow the virus to escape in most cases, the antibodies produced by infected people being unable to neutralize it.
The 17 newly identified antibodies were isolated starting from samples from four HIV-positive patients who benefited from a strong immune defense against HIV.
Most of these new antibodies are 10 times stronger compared to other recently described antibodies (PG9, PG16 and VRC01) in the field of vaccination research, explained the authors of this study, scientists at Scripps Research Institute in in the Californian city of Jolla.
Certain combinations of these antibodies make a favorable level of protection against a large percentage of all HIV variants.
Doctors believe a vaccine able to prevent HIV infection will have to teach the immune system to produce this kind of powerful antibodies before exposure to this pathogen agent.
AIDS has killed more than 30 million people in the world, since the identification of the disease in 1981. Nearly 34 million people are currently living with HIV, according to UNAIDS estimates.