However, making antibodies in large enough quantities to boost the immune system remains a challenge, said Pantophlet.
While researchers haven't given up on that prospect, some think it's more feasible to use the new findings as another avenue to an AIDS vaccine. The idea would be to teach the body to produce the antibodies so the person is protected when exposed to the virus, Mascola said.
But that won't happen for some time, if at all. "Developing a vaccine always takes a fairly long period of research with some trial and error," Mascola said.
"The goal is to vaccinate individuals and have their own immune systems make an antibody like this," he said. "To do that, we have to design a new vaccine, study it first in animal models, and then try it in small scale human studies, and see if it does what we expect it to do. That takes a quite a bit of time and effort."
To learn more about the immune system, see the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: John R. Mascola, M.D., Vaccine Research Center, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.; Ralph Pantophlet, assistant professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C., Canada; July 9, 2010, Science
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