This Might Be The HIV Cure We've Been Waiting For

Some much-needed good news this week. 

This Might Be The HIV Cure We've Been Waiting For
HIV Virus 3D Rendering Credit: Westend61/Getty Images


We may soon have a cure for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

Scientists from the National Institute of Health (NIH) just identified an antibody in an HIV-infected patient that “neutralized 98 percent of HIV isolates tested, including 16 of 20 strains resistant to other antibodies of the same class,” according to a statement. That antibody is called N6, and its ability to shut down that many HIV strains is something scientists haven’t seen before.

HIV has been a really hard virus to fight because it “rapidly changes its surface proteins to evade recognition by the immune system,” according to the NIH statement. Science Alert expands on the problem, reporting that “due to HIV’s ability to rapidly respond to the body’s immune defences, an antibody that can block a wide range of strains has been very hard to come by.” Now that scientists have found an antibody that can do that, Science Alert reports the antibody “could form the basis of a new vaccine against the virus.”

The antibody, named N6, “blocks infection by binding to a part of the HIV envelope called the CD4 binding site, preventing the virus from attaching itself to immune cells,” reports NIH. That site, known as the V5 region, changes very little across all strains of HIV and is “the major mechanism of resistance to VRC01-class antibodies,” according to the study, published in the journal Immunity. By binding to it, N6 is able “to tolerate changes in the HIV envelope,” reports NIH, and bypass the resistance the virus forms to other antibodies. In doing that, N6 is able to prevent HIV from attaching, attacking, and ultimately destroying a patient’s immune cells, “which is what makes HIV-positive people so vulnerable to AIDS,” reports Science Alert.

N6 antibody binding to CD4. Credit: Immunity.

"The discovery and characterisation of this antibody with exceptional breadth and potency against HIV provides an important new lead for the development of strategies to prevent and treat HIV infection," said Anthony S. Fauci from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the NIH statement.

The technique is about to be tested in humans in a Phase II clinical trial; right now, it’s only been done on Rhesus monkeys. But it offers a much-needed ray of hope to HIV patients.

Fingers crossed the good news continues through the trial.

How New York's largest hospital system is predicting COVID-19 spikes

Northwell Health is using insights from website traffic to forecast COVID-19 hospitalizations two weeks in the future.

Credit: Getty Images
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • The machine-learning algorithm works by analyzing the online behavior of visitors to the Northwell Health website and comparing that data to future COVID-19 hospitalizations.
  • The tool, which uses anonymized data, has so far predicted hospitalizations with an accuracy rate of 80 percent.
  • Machine-learning tools are helping health-care professionals worldwide better constrain and treat COVID-19.
Keep reading Show less

3,000-pound Triceratops skull unearthed in South Dakota

"You dream about these kinds of moments when you're a kid," said lead paleontologist David Schmidt.

Excavation of a triceratops skull in South Dakota.

Credit: David Schmidt / Westminster College
Surprising Science
  • The triceratops skull was first discovered in 2019, but was excavated over the summer of 2020.
  • It was discovered in the South Dakota Badlands, an area where the Triceratops roamed some 66 million years ago.
  • Studying dinosaurs helps scientists better understand the evolution of all life on Earth.
Keep reading Show less

World's oldest work of art found in a hidden Indonesian valley

Archaeologists discover a cave painting of a wild pig that is now the world's oldest dated work of representational art.

Pig painting at Leang Tedongnge in Indonesia, made at 45,500 years ago.

Credit: Maxime Aubert
Surprising Science
  • Archaeologists find a cave painting of a wild pig that is at least 45,500 years old.
  • The painting is the earliest known work of representational art.
  • The discovery was made in a remote valley on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
Keep reading Show less

What can Avicenna teach us about the mind-body problem?

The Persian polymath and philosopher of the Islamic Golden Age teaches us about self-awareness.

Photo by Andrew Spencer on Unsplash
Mind & Brain
Philosophers of the Islamic world enjoyed thought experiments.
Keep reading Show less
Videos

The incredible physics behind quantum computing

Can computers do calculations in multiple universes? Scientists are working on it. Step into the world of quantum computing.

Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast