Broadly neutralizing antibodies: is production influenced by HIV’s genome?

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Of the HIV infected population around the world, 1% produce antibodies that can neutralize most strains of HIV. The formation of these broadly acting antibodies could provide vital clues for the development of a future vaccine. A recent study carried out by researchers from the University of Zurich and University Hospital Zurich (both Switzerland) has discovered that the production of these broad acting antibodies is dependent on the genome of the virus.

These very special antibodies form in only a small number of individuals infected with the HIV-1 strain. The researchers aimed to discover the factors that cause the production of these antibodies, to aid the development of a potential vaccine. Previous research has highlighted that the immune response of a person is affected by virus load, virus diversity, infection duration and patient ethnicity.

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