What does that mean, exactly? Scientists were able to attach HIV-fighting antibodies to immune cells, which creates a cell population within the body that is resistant to falling prey to the HIV virus. These resistant cells rapidly take the place of diseased cells, which means it’s markedly more effective than other HIV treatments and therapies.
Cells without that tethered antibody protection were overrun with the HIV virus and ultimately died off, which leaves the protected cells to survive and multiply, all the while passing on that protective gene mutation to the newly-minted cells. This is colloquially dubbed “the neighbour effect.”
The research was conducted by The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in San Diego, California, where lab workers first tested their hypothesis against rhinovirus, most notorious for causing the common cold. “This is really a form of cellular vaccination,” said study senior author Dr. Richard Lerner, Professor of Immunochemistry at TSRI.
From 2005 to 2014, the annual number of new HIV diagnoses dropped by 19 per cent, but the disease is still an issue. In the U.S. alone, more than 1.2 million people are living with the virus and one in eight patients doesn’t even know it.