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Gut Flora Influences HIV Immune Response

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Normal microorganisms in the intestines appear to play a pivotal role in how the HIV virus foils a successful attack from the body’s immune system, according to new research from Duke Medicine.

The study, published Aug. 13, 2014, in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, builds on previous work from researchers at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute that outlined a perplexing quality about HIV: The antibodies that originally arise to fight the virus are ineffective.

These initial, ineffective antibodies target regions of the virus’s outer envelope called gp41 that quickly mutates, and the virus escapes being neutralized. It turns out that the virus has an accomplice in this feat - the natural microbiome in the gut.

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