New York: The researchers from California Institute of Technology have discovered a new antibody that can make it easier to detect and neutralize HIV virus in an infected patient.
Proteins called broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) are a promising key to prevent infection by HIV -- the virus that causes AIDS.
bNAbs have been found in blood samples from some HIV patients whose immune systems can naturally control the infection.
The process of HIV infection begins when the virus comes into contact with human immune cells called T cells that carry a particular protein called CD4 on their surface.
The newly-discovered antibodies may protect a patient's healthy cells by recognizing this protein present on the surface of all HIV strains and inhibiting, or neutralizing, the effects of the virus.
"It is actually an advantage if the antibody can recognize different forms," said Louise Scharf, a postdoctoral scholar.
A potential medical application of this antibody is in combination therapies in which a patient is given a cocktail of several antibodies that work in different ways to fight off the virus as it rapidly changes and evolves.
The work was published in the journal Cell.