HIV antibody breakthrough in South Africa

Created: Monday, October 22, 2012

SA scientists have discovered how some people can make potent antibodies capable of neutralising strains of HIV, Business Day reported on Monday.

"We're hoping we can use this information to develop a vaccine that prompts the body's immune system to make broadly neutralising antibodies," Penny Moore was quoted saying.

Moore is lead author of a paper describing the discovery, published in Nature Medicine on Sunday.

What the studies showed

The scientists have discovered that the virus evolves to evade its host's immune system by adding a sugar molecule to its surface.

The host's antibodies adapt to recognise the sugar in such a way that they can kill nine of 10 known strains of HIV.

The study is based on blood samples taken at regular intervals over several years from two women infected with HIV, enabling scientists to study how the virus and the women's antibodies have changed over time, Moore said.

(Sapa, October 2012)

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