South African scientists develop antidotes for HIV

South African scientists develop antidotes for HIV

Johannesburg, South Africa (ISJ): South African researchers claim, they have discovered antibodies capable of killing multiple strains of HIV. The findings of a joint research collaboration with scientists from the United States opens up possibilities for HIV prevention and treatment.

A media release by the Center for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) reveals the discovery of the response of an antibody on an HIV-infected South African woman. The researchers cloned the antibodies in the laboratory and used in a series of experiments to validate how the immune system of the woman responded to these potent antibodies.

"The new insights gained from this KwaZulu-Natal woman into immune responses against HIV brings hope for future HIV prevention and treatment strategies," said an elated Prof. Salim S. Abdool Karim, leader of the CAPRISA consortium and President of the Medical Research Council of South Africa. "The woman is doing well on antiretroviral therapy and continues to attend the CAPRISA clinic regularly," he added.

The identification and successful cloning of these special antibodies enables the researchers to make sufficiently large quantities for further experiments, similar to the medical protocol to prevent or treat HIV.

"Our goal is to test these antibodies, preferably in combination with other broadly neutralising antibodies, directly in patients with HIV infection or in patients at risk of getting infected," explained Prof. Abdool Karin. "But this will take some time as the team is currently planning animal studies as a first step."

"Since South Africa has the largest burden of HIV infection globally, we are gratified to see South African scientists, under Prof. Abdul Karim's leadership, undertake research to find solutions that will bring an end to AIDS," said South African Health Minister Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi. "We are hopeful that this research takes us one step closer to developing an AIDS vaccine."

Researchers drawn from South Africa's National Institute of Communicable Diseases, Johannesburg, the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the University of Cape Town worked jointly with US partners at National Institute of Health and Columbia University in New York were involved in the project. The research findings were published in the scientific journal 'Nature'.

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