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Scientists close to finding HIV, diabetes cure

Jul 13, 2010 07:41 PM IST India India

New Delhi: US scientists say they're one step closer to an HIV vaccine. Researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases discovered a pair of naturally occurring antibodies that neutralise up to 91 percent of HIV strains while screening an HIV-positive African American man.

Antibodies are proteins that act as the immune system's first line of defence and till now, the best results have been antibodies that blocked 30 to 40 per cent of all HIV strains. This breakthrough could lead to the development of new treatment for HIV and a possible vaccine. But the immediate challenge now, after animal testing, is to test on humans.

Dr Parasramani, Infectious Diseases Specialst in the Lilavati Hospital, says, "I won't call it a breakthrough yet. To some extent we know that this is an antibody and this is how it is going to work. But it is going to take a long long time. I don't think it's a breakthrough, but it's some step, a small step I would say."

It does spell hope for the 33 million adults living with HIV worldwide and, researchers say, could lead to breakthroughs in fighting other infectious diseases.

Back home, in the diabetes capital of the world, scientists at New Delhi's National Immunology Institute have developed a new form of insulin that will provide much relief to those suffering from diabetes.

Dr A Surolia, Director of NII, said, "The earlier insulin needed multiple injections. To overcome this difficulty we decided to design a particular structural form so that degradation is avoided."

This will act as a monthly insulin shot, instead of daily jabs, as the new form keeps sugar levels in the blood under control for a month. The research has been done on rats over two years, and while human trials are still a year away, it's a huge breakthrough.