The powerful broadly neutralizing antibodies (BNAs) to HIV that some people develop appear to arise as the result of a chain reaction set in motion when a standard antibody prompts viral mutation. Publishing their findings in the journal Cell, researchers have been studying blood samples collected from a South African man between 15 weeks and four years after he contracted HIV. The man eventually developed BNAs that were able to counteract about 55 percent of all the HIV strains found in the world.
Around one in five HIV-positive people will eventually produce BNAs, but they will largely do so after the viral population has mutated enough to evade the antibodies’ effects.
In previous findings, the researchers mapped the coevolution between the virus’s mutation and the development of BNAs. In this new research, they have found that a second, more basic HIV antibody helped cause the virus to develop a specific mutation that then aided the BNAs’ development into a more potent force against the virus.
These findings may prove useful for the development of HIV vaccines.

To read the press release, click here.

To read the journal abstract, click here.