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California scientists discover vital antibodies in AIDS study

A group in California said it is one step closer to solving the disease that has claimed millions of lives around the world,

Scientists have been searching for years to find a vaccine for AIDS.

But a group in California said it is one step closer to solving the disease that has claimed millions of lives around the world, according to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative’s Web site.

The nonprofit organization kicked off its effort in 2006 to fund efforts for a research initiative called “Protocol G,” which focuses on gathering blood from HIV patients in developing countries and isolating antibodies that could cancel out the virus.

The initiative provided the Scripps Research Institute the materials to discover two critical antibodies that fight against the AIDS virus.

“The new vaccine will affect the incidence and prevalence of HIV in the USA and globally,” said Dr. Joseph Inungu, director of External Relations Health Sciences at Saginaw Valley State University and former temporary faculty of health science at Central Michigan University. “The impact will be huge affecting the way we look at and talk about the HIV infection.”

In the study recently released in the journal “Science,” scientists discovered two vital antibodies, as well as a new part of the virus the antibodies attack. In turn, this discovery could lead to a creation of a vaccine for AIDS.

A monumental step

Dr. Robert Graham, medical director at the Central Michigan District Health Department, sees the discovery of antibodies that could lead to a potential vaccine as a great accomplishment.

The findings have not led to an immediate creation of a vaccine, but researchers are getting closer to developing a vaccine in the future, he said.

“There are places in the world that are devastated by HIV with generations of people growing up without parents because they’ve died from the virus,” Graham said. Inungu agrees it is a good development and long overdue.

Public health education and health promotions major Lindsey Grove sees the possibility of a vaccine as a positive impact to help people.

“It gives hope that we’re getting closer to a vaccine, which is promising to this still-devastating disease,” the Montgomery senior said.

Grove is taking HSC523: AIDS Education with James Pahz, professor of Health Sciences.

If the vaccine were to be created, it would not reduce the need of people in the medical field because there would still be a need for many clinicians, Graham said. There would not be as many people dealing with HIV and the treatment of the virus, however.

“Not everyone’s death from AIDS would be in vain if a cure were found,” Graham said. “This has forced us to look harder into biology and understanding how cells work.”

By Joe Albrecht