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Exposing the Achilles' Heel of the AIDS Virus

Beatriz Apellaniz, PhD holder of the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country, has studied in her PhD thesis HIV regions that could be used to design a vaccine. The researcher has focussed her research on a specific region of the surface protein of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), which is responsible for the Autoimmune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), one of the diseases with the greatest human morbidity and mortality.

This region, known as the MPER (Membrane-proximal External Region) is one of the domains that is responsible for the fusion of the virus with the cell that it is going to affect, and it is of particular interest, since, as Doctor Apellaniz explains, there are known to be infected people whose immune systems are capable of generating antibodies that target this region in particular.It has been demonstrated that these antibodies could halt the infection in its early stages, which is what a preventive vaccine is seeking to do.

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