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Scientists hopeful for 2 new HIV-fighting antibodies

BOSTON - Government scientists have identified two human antibodies they believe can prevent 90 percent of known HIV strains from infecting cells, the National Institutes of Health announced yesterday.

NIH scientists believe the two antibodies can be harnessed to create more potent HIV vaccines or better treatments for the condition.

"The discovery of these exceptionally broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV and the structural analysis that explains how they work are exciting advances that will accelerate our efforts to find a preventive HIV vaccine for global use," said Anthony Fauci, director of the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which conducted the research.

The scientists identified the two antibodies as VRC01 and VRC02. Laboratory studies showed they could neutralize a larger number of HIV strains with greater efficiency than previously identified antibodies. Details from the study were published in the online edition of the research journal Science.

Scientists from other institutions participated in the research, including those from Columbia University and Rockefeller University, New York; Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health, Boston; and University of Washington, Seattle.

Several pharmaceutical companies have tried to develop HIV vaccines over the years, without success. Currently, HIV is treated with a variety of anti-viral medications.- McClatchy Tribune

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