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Antibodies are specialized, Y-shaped proteins that bind like a lock-and-key to the body’s foreign invaders — whether they are viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites. They are the “search” battalion of the immune system’s search-and-destroy system, tasked with finding an enemy and marking it for destruction.

“They’re released from the cell and they go out and hunt,” said Dr. Warner Greene, the director of the Center for HIV Cure Research at the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco.

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