We might be on the brink of curing HIV. Scientists at the US National Institutes of Health have discovered an antibody that they claim can neutralize 98 percent of HIV strains. The antibody is called N6, and its strength and dynamism have given real hope of treating and preventing HIV infections.
The team has found N6 to neutralize almost 16 of the 20 strains, which up till now had resisted all kinds of medication and made the HIV notorious for its ever-changing surface proteins evading recognition.
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The N6 has built on the 2010 discovery called VRC01, which was found to have halted over 90 percent of HIV strains by blocking the virus from attaching itself to a part of the HIV strand called the CD4 binding site, thus preventing the virus from attacking the immune cells.
N6 is more advanced in that it can tolerate greater changes in the HIV envelope which occurred as a result of gathering and attaching to sugars, leading to the loosening of the antibody’s grip. Added to the advantage of stronger and more durable prevention, the researchers can also administer it subcutaneously, i.e. into the fat under the skin rather than into the blood stream.
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