US researchers develop new tool in HIV vaccine fight

WASHINGTON - US researchers have developed a new test to identify antibodies capable of fighting most strains of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, in a breakthrough that could accelerate the hunt for a vaccine.

A report published in the journal Science on Thursday said that scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases had studied HIV-infected individuals whose blood had shown "powerful neutralisation" qualities of the virus.

The new tool allowed scientists to precisely determine the broadly neutralizing antibodies in a given sample by analysing the neutralized HIV strains.

The tool -- known as neutralization fingerprinting -- is a mathematical algorithm that taps into the large pool of data on HIV bNAbs (broadly neutralising antibodies) generated in recent years.

The neutralisation fingerprint of an HIV antibody allows scientists to determine which strains of the virus it can block and how effectively it does so.

Previous techniques to yield the same information were far slower and "extremely labourious," the study said.