An unlikely hero has emerged in the quest to fight HIV: the cow. According to some researchers in the US, cows hold the clue to HIV cure. A study published in journal Nature by researchers at Scripps Research Institute, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and Texas A&M University have found that cows can help in curing the deadly disease.
For the research, four cows were injected with a type of HIV protein and it was observed that the cows rapidly produced powerful antibodies against the virus. Their immune systems produce unique antibodies against infections. According to Sciencenews report, the antibodies, called broadly neutralizing antibodies, can stop infection from a variety of HIV types.
The cows generated these antibodies as soon as 42 days after immunization. For the small percentage of people estimated to develop these antibodies after a natural infection, it can take several years.
The scientists were pleasantly shocked by the unique discovery. “I was shocked,” TIME quoted study author Devin Sok as saying. With the study, the scientists were able to study how the immune systems of cows is capable of creating such antibodies.
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According to TIME, understanding of the immune system of cows that effectively develops antibodies against HIV is a “valuable information” for the scientists, who are hoping to develop an HIV vaccine.
Scientists have so far been unable to develop a vaccine against HIV. Making an HIV vaccine is difficult because the virus changes all the time. Different strains exist throughout the world, and the virus even mutates within an infected person’s body. After this study, the researchers are hopeful of applying their finding on humans.