#GPnews: Scientists develop HIV antibody protecting against 99% of strains

#GPnews: Scientists develop HIV antibody protecting against 99% of strains

#GPnews: Scientists develop HIV antibody protecting against 99% of strains

A recent scientific study found that a new kind of antibody is 99% effective against several types of HIV strains, which could have huge implications for the way we treat the virus in the future. This new broadly neutralizing antibody binds to three different critical sites on HIV.

Spikes barely change and are identical among different strains, making it possible for these special antibodies to attack different mutations of the virus.

The next step to putting these powerful antibodies to work is a clinical trial, which is expected to get underway in 2018.

These proteins are capable of killing off numerous HIV strains at once, so for this joint study between NIH and Sanofi, researchers set out to find a way to harness this natural defense.

Researchers gave 24 monkeys the tri-specific antibody before infecting them with the virus, and reported that none of them developed an infection.

Dr Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), commented "Combinations of antibodies that each bind to a distinct site on HIV may best overcome the defences of the virus in the effort to achieve effective antibody-based treatment and prevention..."

Said spikes are one of the very rare parts of the microbe that don't change and are present on the many strains.

An estimated 36.7 million people worldwide were living with HIV or AIDS at the end of 2015, with the majority in sub-Saharan Africa.

The research was also carried out by scientists at Harvard Medical School, The Scripps Research Institute, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Trials on humans are due to begin next year, and there are hopes that this new discovery will be able to prevent transmission, as well as go a long way in the eradication of HIV.

The International AIDS Society called the project an "exciting breakthrough".

For certain HIV antibodies, having a mate or two has a major effect in the battle against the infection.

"Trispecific antibodies represent a potential new class of therapeutics that can block multiple targets with a single agent", said Dr. Nabel. Although more than half of the monkeys in each of the natural antibody groups became infected with HIV, none of the monkeys who received the engineered three-pronged antibody became infected.

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