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article imageAntibodies in breast milk could help to combat HIV

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By Tim Sandle     May 30, 2012 in Health
Durham - Scientists have found important antibodies in the breast milk of an HIV infected mother which can protect the mother’s baby from HIV. This could lead to the development of a new vaccine.
According to a research brief, the HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) can be transmitted from mother to child via breastfeeding. However, the chance of infection is much lower when compared with other body fluids. Scientists have calculated that the chance of a baby contracting HIV is 1 in 10, where the mother is HIV-infected.
The reason for this has emerged from some recent research. Scientists based at Duke University has determined that antibodies from special cells (called B-cells) in mother’s milk are able neutralize HIV.
Fierce Biotech states that this research involved isolating cells from the breast milk of an HIV-infected woman in Malawi, three days after the birth of her child. The research was specific to the HIV-1 strain of the virus.
The implications of the research are that it could lead to an HIV vaccine. The findings may also help researchers with new investigations into adult-to-adult transmission, in addition to mother-to-child transmission
The scientific team was led by Sallie Permar, an assistant professor of pediatrics and infectious diseases. The research findings were presented in a paper titled “Isolation of HIV-1-Neutralizing Mucosal Monoclonal Antibodies from Human Colostrum”. The paper was published in the journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) One.
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