Health Team

Duke scientists find potent antibody to HIV-1

Posted February 23, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

— For the first time, Duke University Medical Center scientists have isolated an important antibody that could help with the development of an AIDS vaccine.

Antibodies are proteins in our bodies that our immune system uses to attack bacteria or viruses. The protein called the 2F5-like antibody, the one Duke researchers isolated, is a gold standard for what an HIV vaccine needs. Until now, however, no one had ever found it circulating in the blood of infected people.

HIV research Potent antibody found for AIDS vaccine

“The 2F5-like antibody is valuable because we know, from past research, it can neutralize 80 percent of transmitted HIV viruses. Now that it has been found, we may be able to find ways to duplicate or enhance it and boost the body's immune system,” said Georgia Tomaras, PhD, associate professor of surgery, immunology and molecular genetics and microbiology in the Duke Human Vaccine Institute and the senior author of the study.

2F5-like antibodies are neutralizing antibodies, one of the body's responses to infection. Only a small amount of people with HIV make these antibodies, and they typically appear months after initial transmission of the virus. At that point, it is often too late to help.

Tomaras, working closely with lead author Xiaoying Shen, and a team of researchers examined the antibodies present in 300 patients infected with HIV-1. They found only one patient who had developed 2F5-like antibodies.

“We discovered that the 2F5-like antibody was strong enough to block multiple strains of HIV in the lab, but it's not clear if it played any part in the patient's ability to control the virus,” Tomaras said.

Since the immune cells that produce these antibodies have been identified and isolated, the goal is to understand how to trigger the cells to routinely make these antibodies before someone is infected.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Duke Center for AIDS Research and appears online in the Journal of Virology.


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  • Adelinthe Feb 26, 2009

    Good news!

    Good job!!!

    Praying for quick easy resolution.

    God bless.


  • simplelogic Feb 26, 2009

    I worked with this professor on this project almost 10 years ago - I'm glad to see she's persistent enough to make it pan out! Lots of leads don't go anywhere, but this one really looks promising. Go Georgia!

  • ladyblue Feb 26, 2009

    it's not news because golo people can't argue about it through comments. but needless to say, this gets my vote!

    just wanted to let you know I voted and I am a golo member. have a nice day.

  • ladyblue Feb 26, 2009

    I think that plenty of developments will take place but we also must consider what the side effects of this vaccine may be down the road as well. That's a lot of research and money's still left to get this thing off and running. I am hoping that the continued research can continue to them to try. I wish there were more progress on done on cancer.

  • Angel67 Feb 26, 2009

    yeah and they'll hold up everything for 50 years. Just like cancer. I've heard so many people say they already found a cure but won't release it

  • 19tarheel75 Feb 26, 2009


  • any1butcarolina0405 Feb 26, 2009

    it's not news because golo people can't argue about it through comments. but needless to say, this gets my vote!

  • housemanagercary Feb 26, 2009

    Everyone needs to vote this story higher!

  • jaredg Feb 26, 2009

    SWEET!! now we just need one for cancer.

  • mjones3 Feb 25, 2009

    You all make a great point here. Why isn't this headline news?