Alright, that’s enough doom and gloom for the moment, let’s have a big of good news: scientists may have found a weakness in that nasty retrovirus, HIV. By capturing a 3D image of the bug attacking a healthy cell, they’ve identified an Achilles heel where a vaccine could potentially protect human cells from infection.
It seems HIV sneaks up on CD4 T-cells, rubs up against it a little and then used its gp120 proteins to inject itself into the cell, covering its tracks to prevent detection. With the image, however, researchers believe they can now use the antibody b12 to block uptake. Of the discovery, scientist Peter Kwong says:
Having that site and knowing that you can make antibodies against it means that a vaccine is possible. It doesn’t say we’ve gotten there. But it’s taken it off the list from an impossible dream and converted it to something that is a (mere) technical barrier.
Of course, there’s still a tough road ahead. Only two companies in the US are working on a vaccine and countless tests will need to be done before the public can expect complete protection.
Still, it’s nice to know there’s some hope…