Researchers have found a so-called broadly neutralizing antibody (BNA) that can identify a key, shape-shifting portion of HIV when it is in multiple forms, possibly indicating this naturally occurring immune response could be manufactured to become a part of a future treatment for the virus. Publishing their findings in the journal Cell, researchers published the results of an X-ray crystallography and electron microscopy study of interactions between a BNA called 8ANC195 and what is known as the envelope spike on HIV’s surface.

The HIV envelope spike is made up of a series of proteins that bind to the surface proteins on immune cells. The spike can be in an open or closed position. In the event that HIV is floating independently through the body, the spike would typically be closed. But research has shown that HIV tends to spread directly from an infected immune cell to another immune cell, in which case the viral spike would likely be open.

According to this new research, 8ANC195 can recognize and attach to the viral spike when the spike is either closed or partially open, ultimately neutralizing the effects of the virus.

The researchers hope that 8ANC195 may one day become a component of combination HIV therapy.

To read the study abstract, click here.

To read a press release about the study, click here.