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Fight against AIDS

Superpotent human antibodies, synthesized in the laboratory, may point to a new course of action in the fight against the HIV-1 virus that causes AIDS.  The group led by Brazilian immunologist Michel Nussenzweig of Rockefeller University in New York showed (in the October 25, 2012 issue of the journal Nature) that using a combination of these antibodies might prevent the virus from mutating and rendering medication ineffective.  The study was conducted on mice that had artificially been given a human immune system, which makes them susceptible to the virus.  By using five antibodies, some of the tested mice maintained undetectable levels of the virus for 60 days after the treatment.  One advantage to this strategy compared to the antiretroviral cocktails is the absence of side effects because the antibodies are not foreign to the system.  “I don’t think we can cure people like this, but we have to try,” says Nussenzweig.  The possibility of a cure exists, but also plausible would be an antibody treatment that needs to be used only once or twice a year, which would be a huge advantage over the current daily consumption of medicines to fight the disease.