New antibody attacks 99% of HIV strains

An antibody has been developed which can fight off 99% of HIV strains in a groundbreaking move in the fight against the disease.

The HIV virus, which attacks the body’s immune system, has long eluded scientists as they have struggled to find a successful method of controlling its debilitating effects.

A recent project, spearheaded by the US National Institutes of Health and Sanofi, a leading pharmaceutical company.

The BBC reported that;

“The International Aids Society said it was an “exciting breakthrough”. Human trials will start in 2018 to see if it can prevent or treat infection.

Our bodies struggle to fight HIV because of the virus’ incredible ability to mutate and change its appearance.

These varieties of HIV – or strains – in a single patient are comparable to those of influenza during a worldwide flu season. So the immune system finds itself in a fight against an insurmountable number of strains of HIV.

But 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. Researchers have been trying to use broadly neutralising antibodies as a way to treat HIV, or prevent infection in the first place.”

Dr Gary Nabel, the chief scientific officer at Sanofi, went on to tell the BBC:

They are more potent and have greater breadth than any single naturally occurring antibody that’s been discovered. We’re getting 99% coverage, and getting coverage at very low concentrations of the antibody. It was quite an impressive degree of protection.”

The findings have been proven in animal tests, with human trials set to begin in 2018. Leading AIDS charities and health organisations have been quick to vocalise their support for these developments.

“Prof Linda-Gail Bekker, the president of the International Aids Society, told the BBC: “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. As a doctor in Africa, I feel the urgency to confirm these findings in humans as soon as possible.”

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 defences of the virus in the effort to achieve effective antibody-based treatment and prevention.”