In a big and exciting breakthrough, researchers have produced a new antibody that promises to fight back against more strains of HIV than any naturally occurring antibody.
Pharmaceutical company Sanofi partnered with the National Institutes of Health to develop this antibody. The antibody has prevented infection in primates.
Unlike naturally occurring antibodies that have been discovered, this new antibody attacks three crucial parts of the HIV virus.
Researchers combined three unique antibodies to produce a tri-specific antibody. This engineered antibody targets more strains than the most effective naturally occurring antibodies, which can target only 90 percent of HIV strains. But this tri-specific antibody can attack 99 percent of HIV strains.
Sanofi chief scientific officer Gary Nabel said tri-specific antibodies “can block multiple targets with a single agent. They are more potent and have greater breadth than any single naturally occurring antibody that’s been discovered.”
Researchers did experiments on 24 monkeys. They found none of those given the tri-specific antibody developed an infection when they were exposed to the virus.
President of the International Aids Society, Linda-Gail Bekker, said, “This paper reports an exciting breakthrough. These super-engineered antibodies seem to go beyond the natural and could have more applications than we have imagined to date. It’s early days yet, and as a scientist, I look forward to seeing the first trials get off the ground in 2018. As a doctor in Africa, I feel the urgency to confirm these findings in humans as soon as possible.”