Scientists say that cows have the ability to fight the HIV. According to a new study, the researchers say that the animal’s powerful immune system quickly produce special antibodies that neutralize the deadly virus. Currently, only approximately ten to twenty per cent of people infected with the HIV naturally develop the ‘broadly neutralizing antibodies.’ Additionally, the individuals who develop the antibodies only begin generating them approximately two years after infection. By this time, the virus has already mutated. However, experts have discovered that cattle injected with the virus’ proteins developed immunity in a matter of weeks. All the four calves tested developed the antibodies as quickly as 35 to 50 days.
This is the first time that immunization has reliably triggered the manufacture of anti-HIV antibodies in humans or animals. The United States National Institute of Health said the findings were a significant step forward in the fight against HIV. The institute’s director, Antony Fauc said that from the early days of the epidemic, the scientific community had discovered that the HIV is adept at evading immunity. Cows do not get the virus, while bovine antibodies, in their current form, are not suitable for clinical treatment for humans. However, scientists are convinced that the study could help to move forward the search for a vaccine.
Dennis Burton, a lead author of the survey, said that a minority of the people living with HIV produce the antibodies, but only do so after a lengthy period of infection. But by the time they develop the antibodies, the virus in their body has already learned to resist these defenses. One theory says that the more potent antibodies produced by cows are due to the animals’ extensive gastrointestinal systems. The digestive systems are made up of multiple-chambered stomachs populated by bacteria to help digest tough grasses. The bacteria increase the creatures’ risk of infection, thus requiring a way for producing potent antibodies.
Nowadays, people with HIV are living a decade longer than they did twenty years ago some even live a full life and reach old age. Health experts say that the increase in life expectancy, for residents with the virus in Europe and the United States, is a tremendous medical achievement. They have however expressed their concern, saying many people are missing out on the advanced medication as they are not yet aware of their HIV status. In Europe, HIV-positive males can now reach their 67th birthday. In the US, life expectancy is at 66 years for men, and 63 for women with the virus.