U.S. government scientists have discovered three powerful antibodies, the strongest of which neutralizes 91% of HIV strains, more than any AIDS antibody yet discovered.
Looking closely at the strongest antibody, they have detailed exactly what part of the virus it targets and how it attacks that site. Together with recent research into how to make animals produce antibodies, the new findings constitute a significant step toward an AIDS vaccine.
The antibodies were discovered in the cells of a 60-year-old African-American gay man, known in the scientific literature as Donor 45, whose body made the antibodies naturally. Researchers screened 25 million of his cells to find 12 that produced the antibodies.
Now the trick will be for scientists to develop a vaccine or other methods to make anyone's body produce them.