HIV stands against a worthy opponent – scientists have synthesized a specific antibody that targets 99% of HIV strains and has the potential to nullify infections in primates.
After attacking 3 crucial parts on the virus, the antibody makes it harder for most of the strains to resist the effects. The frightening question remains whether the same “superbacteria” evolutionary mechanisms will be set forth if we try to eradicate HIV over time. That is, will the 1% of resistant strains become more prevalent as their “competition” gets slashed?
Our bodies struggle to fight HIV because of The virus’ incredible ability to mutate and change its appearance is already frightening enough, and that’s the primary reasons we even struggle to fight it. These varieties of HIV – or strains – in a single patient are comparable to those of influenza during a worldwide flu season. The number of existing strains of HIV is simply insurmountable for the human immune system.
After years of infection, a small number of patients develop powerful weapons called “broadly neutralising antibodies” that attack something fundamental to HIV and can kill large swathes of HIV strains. The study, published in Science, combines three such antibodies into an extremely potent entity called “tri-specific antibody”.
Experiments on 24 monkeys showed none of those given the tri-specific antibody developed an infection when they were later injected with the virus.
Dr Gary Nabel, the chief scientific officer at Sanofi and one of the report authors, told the BBC News website: “They are more potent and have greater breadth than any single naturally occurring antibody that’s been discovered.”
“These super-engineered antibodies seem to go beyond the natural and could have more applications than we have imagined to date.”
It was announced that human trials will be available starting from 2018. The breakthrough is achieved through a collaboration between the US National Institutes of Health and the pharmaceutical company Sanofi.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it was an intriguing approach.
He added: “Combinations of antibodies that each bind to a distinct site on HIV may best overcome the defenses of the virus in the effort to achieve effective antibody-based treatment and prevention.”