Duke’s research team, lead by LaTonya Williams, worked with researchers at the University of Texas at Austin to develop the HIV-1 antibody. UNC researchers are using this finding to develop their own curative antibody.
Williams and her team found the antibodies in the B-cells, or antibody producing cells, of an individual.
The study was broken down into three parts. In one part of the study, researchers looked in the blood of an HIV infected person and discovered that individual was producing an HIV neutralizing antibody.
Researchers then designed a molecular probe that was able to identify B-cells, creating an antibody effective in neutralizing the virus. Through this method, they have been able to reconstruct how the antibody develops and use it to neutralize a broad spectrum of HIV strains.
In North Carolina there are over 35,000 individuals currently living with HIV, said Lee Storrow, executive director of the North Carolina AIDS Action Network.
Storrow said UNC increased its initiative in order to find a cure.
“North Carolina and the work being done at both of the universities, but also in the Research Triangle, have a long history of being a leader on the research front,” he said.
UNC and Duke have worked together on HIV research for more than 12 years, Storrow said.