A collaborative work between the US National Institutes of Health and the pharmaceutical company Sanofi has brought together scientists who have managed to engineer an antibody that attacks 99% of HIV strains and can prevent infection in primates.
According to The International Aids Society said it was an “exciting breakthrough” and human trials will start in 2018 to see if it can prevent or treat infection.
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.”
The best naturally occurring antibodies will target 90% of HIV strains.
“We’re getting 99% coverage, and getting coverage at very low concentrations of the antibody,” said Dr Nabel.
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 Nabel said: “It was quite an impressive degree of protection.”
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.
“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.”
New antibody attacks 99% of HIV strains. Retrieved at http://www.bbc.com/news/health-41351159.