Seventeen novel antibodies capable of neutralizing a broad spectrum of variants of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS have been isolated by scientists.
Researchers at and associated with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), The Scripps Research Institute, the biotechnology company Theraclone Sciences and Monogram Biosciences Inc., a LabCorp company were behind the study.
The new antibodies, large protein molecules that bind to pathogens and flag them for destruction, were isolated from blood serum samples collected in a continuing global search for broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) launched by IAVI.
They should provide researchers with a new set of targets for the design of vaccine candidates that can elicit similar antibodies to protect people from contracting HIV.
Some of the bNAbs blocked HIV infection of cells as much as 10 to 100 times as potently as previously discovered bNAbs.
"Most antiviral vaccines depend on stimulating the antibody response to work effectively," said Dennis Burton, a professor of immunology and microbial science and director of the IAVI Neutralizing Antibody Centre at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif.
"Because of HIV's remarkable variability, an effective HIV vaccine will probably have to elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies. This is why we expect that these new antibodies will prove to be valuable assets to the field of AIDS vaccine research," he added.
The discovery was reported in the current issue of Nature.