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One step closer to AIDS vaccine?

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Another breakthrough has been made in the fight against AIDS: Researchers in the United States have reportedly found three new types of antibodies that could neutralize the HIV/AIDS virus. Two of these antibodies are able to target a broad spectrum of HIV virus strains, and are able to neutralize 91 percent of HIV strains.

These latest findings are expected to kick-start and pave the way for further AIDS vaccine research.

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a retrovirus, which invades certain white blood cells in the body and drains them of their energy in order to survive and reproduce. This process leads to AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), when the body’s immune system breaks down and becomes invaded by other “opportunistic infections“, the most common of which are meningitis, pneumonia and tuberculosis. Because of the body’s collapsing immune system, these infections become life threatening.

According to Action Against AIDS, over 33 million people lived with AIDS in 2009.

While researchers have been trying to find ways to combat AIDS, either through medication or even the hope of a vaccine, the breakthrough with these new antibodies is immense. According to US News, antibodies have been detected in HIV/AIDS patients since the 1990s, but these antibodies have been too weak to use as a basis to create a vaccine from. This time, it’s different.

“The answer is going to be there, and it’s going to be doable,” co-author of the study, Peter Kwong, a structural biologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda says.

“The discoveries we have made may overcome the limitations that have long stymied antibody-based HIV vaccine design.”

Find out more about HIV/AIDS.

Celebrities who have suffered from AIDS include Magic Johnson and Liberace.

Images: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/901875, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/236263

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