Researchers Discover Powerful Antibodies to Counter HIV

Researchers have isolated 17 new antibodies able to neutralize a wide range of variants of HIV, potentially leading to a vaccine for the virus that causes AIDS.

Researchers have isolated a number of new antibodies able to neutralize a wide range of variants of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The 17 antibodies, described in a study published online Wednesday in the journal Nature, may help lead to the development of an HIV vaccine.

The broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) were isolated from blood serum samples from four HIV-positive donors as part of an ongoing search for bNAbs being carried out by the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI). The research is primarily focused on variants of HIV circulating in developing countries.

Many of the newly discovered antibodies bind to structures on the surface of HIV that were previously unknown, and some are 10 to 100 times as effective at blocking HIV infection of cells as previously discovered bNAbs. By analyzing the structure and biochemistry of the antibodies and how they bind to HIV, researchers will attempt to develop immunogens, the active ingredients in vaccines, which can activate similar antibodies.

“Because of HIV's remarkable variability, an effective HIV vaccine will probably have to elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies,” said study co-author Dennis Burton, professor of immunology and microbial science and director of the IAVI Neutralizing Antibody Center at The Scripps Research Institute, in a press release. “This is why we expect that these new antibodies will prove to be valuable assets to the field of AIDS vaccine research.”

Sources

AIDS Researchers Isolate New Potent and Broadly Effective Antibodies Against HIV [The Scripps Research Institute]

Broad neutralization coverage of HIV by multiple highly potent antibodies (abstract) [Nature]