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What Protects Most Babies?

Women with HIV Have Antibodies in Breast Milk

Researchers from Duke University Medical Center have discovered that the breast milk of HIV-positive women in Malawi has B cells that produce antibodies that neutralize the virus. The fact that only 10 percent of infants who are breastfed for a year become infected made them want to understand how 90 percent of them were being protected. One major challenge was preserving and transporting the breast milk so viable B cells could be isolated and used for experiments, but two different HIV-neutralizing antibodies were isolated. Scientists were excited that these antibodies which are also found on mucosal surfaces such as the GI tract and vagina were present in breast milk and hope this information sheds light on adult-to-adult and mother-to- child transmission.

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