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Top 5 Contagion® News Articles from February 2017

While the year is still young, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has already issued travel alerts due to outbreaks, and releases estimates on vaccine effectiveness. In addition, researchers are on the verge of a new therapy to fight HIV infection, as well as a “permanent” flu shot.
Read on to see the top most-read articles of February 2017.

#5 Duke May Have Developed the Most Powerful HIV-Destroying Antibody Thus Far

A staggering 36.7 million individuals are living with HIV/AIDS around the world and the disease is responsible for over 35 million deaths. For years, researchers around the world have been channeling their efforts into putting an end to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, but because of its ability to rapidly mutate as well as its inclination to hide within human genetic material, it has been a particularly grueling fight. However, research from the Duke Human Vaccine Institute may provide a much needed “win” in this battle.
Recently, the Duke Human Vaccine Institute reported that they have created an “HIV-destroying antibody” capable of neutralizing up to 99% of the virus; according to a press release, this capability “makes it the most powerful HIV-destroying antibody yet found.” The researchers believe that the antibody “would be able to provide and serve as the foundation for an HIV therapy."
In their study, the researchers created an “artificial antibody” by taking two different “HIV-fighting” antibodies found in humans and exchanging the components of each. When speaking with The Chronicle, the study’s first author, LaTonya Williams, PhD, a post-doctoral associate for the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, explained, “We were able to take antibodies from both phases of the study—antibodies that came from memory B cells and antibodies that came from plasma—and we were able to swap out the genes to make a hybrid, or chimeric, antibody that we found was more potent than any of the antibodies that were natural.” According to Dr. Williams, in the first part of the study, the researchers’ central focus was to isolate the HIV-neutralizing antibodies. They were able to achieve this by utilizing technology that had been developed by the Vaccine Research Center for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention back in 2008: using proteins “as bait” in order to “bind” to the antibody-producing memory B cells.
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