There is global hope for the discovery of the AIDS vaccine after researchers identified two powerful and broadly effective antibodies to the HIV virus.
According to a study by the United States International Aids Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), the antibodies can accelerate the development of a vaccine as researchers exploit the newfound vulnerability on the virus to design appropriate immunity to HIV.
The research was carried out on blood specimens collected from over 1,800 volunteers from Rwanda, Zambia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda.
Other countries also include Thailand, Australia, the US and UK.
“The findings are an exciting advance because now we have a new, potentially better target on HIV to focus our efforts for vaccine design,” the Senior Vice President of Research and Development at IAVI, Wayne Koff, said in a statement.
“And having identified this one, we are set to find more,” he added.
According to explanations given, the new antibodies will now be closely studied by researchers in IAVI’s Neutralising Antibody Consortium, who will work out the molecular structure and the mechanism by which the antibodies bind to HIV.
Officials from the National AIDS Control Commission could however, not be reached to comment on the new discovery by press time.
In a related development, Africa through the Africa AIDS Vaccine Programme (AAVP) has also adopted the initiative to trace a lasting solution to the spread of HIV.
The First Lady, Mrs. Jeannette Kagame, in her capacity as the AAVP High Representative recently called on continental health leaders to support this cause.
“We are unwavering in the search for a speedy end to this pandemic and plans are underway for more clinical trials in Africa for 2010.
African leaders must explore options for engaging young generations of African scientists,” Mrs Kagame said.
According to statistics from ‘Science’ – a medical magazine, 95 percent of the new infections happen in Africa and today, countless variations of the virus infect people around the world.
To be effective, an Aids vaccine would have to work against many versions of HIV.