Scientists have discovered antibodies that bind to a "weak spot" in the make up of HIV, leading to renewed hopes for the creation of a successful vaccine.

A team of researchers led by Dennis Burton of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, discovered not only two "extremely potent" HIV antibodies, but also which part of the virus that the antibodies recognized, which was previously unknown as a binding site. Wayne Koff, senior vice president of research and development at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and member of the research team says,

It's the discovery of the target that's the key thing... Our hypothesis now is that if you bind to the [newly discovered target area], you neutralise the virus, as that's how it appears on the surface of the virus... The expectation is that we'll find more. We hope there will be a number of sites that are vulnerable, and we'll know that in a few months' time.

As well as continuing to look for more weak spots, scientists now have to create vaccines that will help others create the antibodies to fight the virus in future.

Discovery of HIV's weak spot boosts vaccine quest [New Scientist]