Researchers have isolated two antibodies from HIV patients that can inactivate an enormous range (up to 91%) of HIV-1 strains in a lab setting.
The news has been greeted with great excitement, since HIV is notorious for its huge variety of strains and quick mutation rate. The antibodies could be used to lower or block viral replication in affected patients. They also offer renewed hope for development of an HIV vaccine.
The hunt for an HIV vaccine has been going on since 1984, and the first potential vaccine entered clinical trials in 1986. The fact that we still don't have a functional vaccine nearly a quarter century later certainly says something about the difficulties inherent in the process.
The new, broad-specificity antibodies could be a basis for vaccine development, but the process is going to be tricky. The vaccine would have to stimulate the body to produce the effective antibodies, and that's not a straightforward task. You can read more about the antibodies and the hope and challenges they present here
What do you think? Are the new discoveries cause for excitement? Will we ever have an HIV vaccine?