A recent article in the Journal of Immunology highlighted a groundbreaking discovery in the fight against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Dr. Mark Connors and his team discovered an antibody named N6 that appeared to neutralize over 98 percent of the HIV isolates tested. What is particularly promising was the ability to eradicate even the known resistant strains.
To date, the discovery of a vaccine has been difficult due to the rapidly changing structure of the proteins on the surface of the virus. The N6 antibody, however, is particularly adept at binding a more consistent portion of the virus called the CD4 binding site, which allows it to attach to human cells.
The N6 antibody joins the ranks of the VRC01 antibody, which was discovered in 2010 and is in clinical trials, but it's effectiveness is far greater. This may translate to a vaccine that will finally prevent HIV from evading our immune system, saving countless lives and cutting healthcare costs.