Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has no cure. Currently, antiretroviral treatment (ART) is used to keep the level of HIV in the body low. Caltech researchers have now discovered an antibody that can attack HIV in new ways.
Proteins called broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) are a promising key to the prevention of HIV infection. bNAbs are found in blood samples of some HIV patients whose immune systems can naturally control the infection. These antibodies protect a patient's healthy cells by recognizing a protein called the envelope spike. This protein is present on the surface of all HIV strains. The protein helps inhibiting, or neutralizing, the effects of the virus.
The research team has now discovered that one particular bNAb may be able to recognize this signature protein, even as it takes on different conformations during infection, making it easier to detect and neutralize the viruses in an infected patient.
First author Louise Scharf said, "The same collaborators at Rockefeller University are already testing bNAbs in a human treatment in a clinical trial. Although the initial trial will not include 8ANC195, the antibody may be included in a combination therapy trial in the near future."
The research is published in Cell.