Scientists from the National Institutes of Health have identified an antibody “potently neutralized 98 percent” of HIV strains in the lab – including 16 of 20 strains that were believed to be resistant to similar antibodies.

According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, the antibody, which was discovered in a HIV+ patient, is an “attractive candidate for further development to potentially treat or prevent HIV infection.”

Most human antibodies are rendered ineffective in stopping HIV infection due to by the virus’s ability to mutate rapidly and evade detection. However, the newly-identified antibody, named ‘N6’, has been shown to prevent the virus from attaching itself to immune cells.

Scientists believe that the new antibody could potentially “offer stronger and more durable prevention and treatment benefits”, but so far its effectiveness has only been tested outside of the body.

NDIAD Director Anthony S. Fauci said in a statement: “The discovery and characterization of this antibody with exceptional breadth and potency against HIV provides an important new lead for the development of strategies to prevent and treat HIV infection.”

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