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Similar to the influenza virus, HIV mutates constantly. But while developing fresh vaccines every year can target influenza, HIV is much harder to fight. One person infected with the virus carries hundreds of thousands of its variations, preventing the use of traditional vaccines that target a single version of a virus.
Starting from the so-called naive antibodies found in humans, scientists at The Scripps Research Institute in the United States are breeding a new class of smart antibodies, called broadly neutralising antibodies, that could protect against the whole spectrum of HIV mutations.
In this audio interview, lead researcher Dennis Burton says the method raises hopes for the development of a HIV vaccine.