Cattle could hold the key to defeating HIV virus

Cattle have a "mind blowing" ability to combat the HIV virus, American researchers have found. Scientists believe that a cow's complex digestive system has enabled them to develop a sophisticated immune system. Up until now the constant mutation of the HIV virus has made it difficult for a patient's immune system to cope.

However, researchers at International Aids Vaccine Initiative and the Scripps Research Institute were stunned by what happened when they tried immunising cows.

"The response blew our minds," Dr Devin Sok, one of the researchers, told the BBC News website.

The required antibodies were being produced by the cow's immune system in a matter of weeks.

Dr Sok added: "It was just insane how good it looked, in humans it takes three-to-five years to develop the antibodies we're talking about.

"This is really important because we hadn't been able to do it period."

The results of their research, which were published in the journal Nature, showed that the cow's antibodies could neutralise 96 per cent of HIV strains which were tested in a laboratory within 381 days.

A fifth of the strains were neutralised within only 42 days.

The US National Institutes of Health described the findings as being of "great interest".