Antibody That Neutralizes HIV Found

An antibody has been found to neutralise HIV by causing the immune system to make new, effective antibodies to fight the dangerous virus, according to a study published in the journal Science.

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HIV has kept scientists busy for decades now as they have attempted to find effective ways to counter the deadly virus. The current methods to treat, or at least alleviate, the patients are better than the past ones, but they come with side effects that might lead to kidney and gastrointestinal problems. The new research will hopefully, be a much better alternative.

A team from The Rockefeller University and the University of Cologne are developing a new, antibody-based treatment strategy that is claimed to cater for a long-term impact on HIV.

According to the first author, Till Schoofs, a single dose of the antibody known as 3BNC117 can trigger an immune response in the patients whereby “new or better” antibodies are made to fight the virus. This strategy will ultimately lead to a decrease in the virus number in the blood of the infected person. The antibody was isolated years ago by a student going by the name of Johannes Scheid from the blood of a patient whose immune system demonstrated a particularly effective way to block the virus from killing immune cells called CD4, the latter being one of the main targets of the virus.   3BNC117 has been shown to counter over 80% of documented HIV strains. This is why the investigators of this study wanted to administer patients with this antibody to combat the infections.

The treatment was conducted last year on a group of patients, and the recent research constitutes the endeavour of Dr Schoofs’ team to follow these individuals for a period of 6 months to study the long-term effects on their immune systems. The results show that 14 of 15 patients having high levels of HIV in their blood at the start of the research ultimately had new antibodies that could combat several strains of HIV. This is specially positive a result since patients will normally take many years to make effective antibodies to kill off HIV. Furthermore, if one single dose can do this, the antibody might prove to have even better effects in the future.

The researchers now wish to test 3BNC117 combined with other HIV-targeting antibodies to develop stronger antiviral effects.

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