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    Got Milk? Potential HIV Cure Found in Cows

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    In the process of scientific research, a group of scientists injected four cows with a ‘dummy’ immunodeficiency virus (HIV). What the immunity of these cows did next was shocking to the science community.

    The HIV presence in their bodies caused the immunity of the animals to develop a whole set of antibodies that neutralized 96 percent of the HIV virus, which opens the way for the creation of a vaccine against this virus, according to an article published in the journal Nature.

    According to Dennis Burton of the Scripps Research Institute in La Hoya, US, the unusually strong response of the cows' immunity to the virus particles was very surprising, given how little time they needed to manufacture universal antibodies. 

    Unlike their human counterparts, the antibodies of cows are more often arranged in a unique way and cope better with even the most complex "dummies" of the virus.

    “Remarkably, BG505 SOSIP immunization resulted in rapid elicitation of broad and potent serum antibody responses in all four cows. Longitudinal serum analysis for one cow showed the development of neutralization breadth (20%, n = 117 cross-clade isolates) in 42 days and 96% breadth (n = 117) at 381 days,” the report in the Nature read.

    As explained by immunologists, 3-4 years after infection with HIV, the human immune system often begins to synthesize so-called wide-action antibodies (bnAbs), capable of neutralizing several varieties of the virus at once. 

    This is however of little help to the body, since the virus by that time will already have penetrated deeply into all tissues of the body and will go into the chronic stage.

    Children display ribbon cut-outs tied to balloons during an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign to mark World AIDS Day in Kolkata December 1, 2014. The world has finally reached the beginning of the end of the AIDS pandemic that has infected and killed millions in the past 30 years, according to a leading campaign group fighting HIV. United Nations data show that in 2013, 35 million people were living with HIV, 2.1 million people were newly infected with the virus and some 1.5 million people died of AIDS. By far the greatest part of the HIV/AIDS burden is in sub-Saharan Africa.
    © REUTERS/ Rupak De Chowdhuri
    Dennis Burton and a number of other virologists have long been trying to transplant this viral stage into uninfected animal cells, adapting them to mass production of a large bnAbs set, and creating a vaccine capable of teaching immunity to fight all varieties of HIV before infection occurs.

    However, as Burton points out, past experiments that scientists did on mice and monkeys ended in failure, so the scientists began to look for other methods of creating vaccines that cause the body to produce "universal" antibodies to HIV.

    After conducting similar experiments on calves, Burton and his colleagues noticed that calves’ body began producing bnAbs literally 1-2 months after the start of injections. 

    After studying their structure, scientists came to the conclusion that some of these antibodies connected with HIV perform as efficiently as human bnAbs do. The best of them, NC-Cow 1, could destroy about 70 percent of the known varieties of the immunodeficiency virus.

    A set of such antibodies, which scientists cultivated in the body of cows throughout the year, could neutralize about 96 percent of the strains of HIV, which is a big step forward in developing a vaccine against the main disease of the 20th and 21st centuries.

    Further experiments with animals and their antibodies will help us understand how it is possible to make human immunity work in a similar way and how to make the antibodies of cows safe for medical use in humans.

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    research, science experiments, science, cure, HIV, United States
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