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Science
22 Jul 2017

A boost to HIV research, thanks to cows!

Cows might just hep the fight against HIV

The fight against HIV has received a boost, thanks to cows. Scientists have found that the bovines have an "insane" and "mind-blowing" ability to develop special antibodies to neutralize the virus.

What human bodies take years to do, the cows' immune system does in weeks.

According to the US National Institutes of Health, the discovery is of "great interest".

In context

Cows might just hep the fight against HIV
What do cows have that we don't?

Differences

What do cows have that we don't?

Cows' digestive systems are swarming with hostile bacteria. Apparently this helped the animals evolve a highly immune defence to protect themselves.

The neutralizing antibodies necessary to tackle HIV are long and loopy, which is unusual for the human body. The antibodies in cows inherently have these features.

A study found they could neutralize 20% HIV strains in 42 days, and 96% in 381 days.

Implication

The findings could eventually help develop vaccine for HIV

The HIV mutates swiftly. Every time the human body develops resistance, it changes appearance.

Though the body does develop neutralizing antibodies after years, the discovery with regard to cows could signify a source of drugs for making preventive microbicides.

The ultimate goal is to develop a vaccine that helps the body produce the necessary antibodies. The cattle findings could help significantly.

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