Achilles Heel for HIV Discovered

By R. Stickney
|  Thursday, Sep 3, 2009  |  Updated 3:45 PM PDT
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Achilles Heel for HIV Discovered

The move now is to exploit the newfound vulnerability on the virus to craft novel approaches to designing an AIDS vaccine, according to Scripps researchers.

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In what’s described as a “hopeful development,” the Scripps Research Institute and two biotech companies have identified two powerful antibodies that attack HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. What the institute considers a development that's revealed the achilles heel of the deadly virus.

These so-called "broadly neutralizing antibodies" are formally named PG9 and PG16 and they appear to target a region found in the "viral spike" HIV uses to gain entry into cells, the North County Times reports. If HIV can't enter cells, it can't infect them.

"I think it's a very hopeful development," Scripps researcher Dennis Burton said.

Although Burton and other researchers admit there is much more work needed before announcing any type of breakthrough, they hope to use this discovery to design a vaccine that will help healthy people develop their own neutralizing antibodies.

Read more in the full article in the North County Times. The findings were published in Thursday’s edition of the journal Science.
 

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