Universal Antibody Drug Against HIV Developed

Hong Kong scientists have developed a bispecific antibody that ‘kills two birds with one stone’ and can neutralize virtually all known strains of HIV.

AsianScientist (May 14, 2018) – Scientists at the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) have developed a universal antibody drug against HIV/AIDS. They reported their findings in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

To end the AIDS pandemic, it is important to discover either an effective vaccine against HIV or a therapeutic cure. There are, however, two major scientific challenges to be overcome: the tremendous diversity of the HIV virus and virus latency.

Since it is extremely difficult to develop an appropriate immunogen to elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) against genetically divergent HIV-1 subtypes, using existing bnAbs as passive immunization is a useful approach for HIV-1 prevention and immunotherapy.

Previous studies have investigated the potency, breadth and crystal structure of many bnAbs, including their use in combination, both in vitro and in vivo. However, naturally occurring resistant HIV-1 strains prevent bnAb-based monotherapies from having a lasting impact.

In this study, researchers at HKU engineered a bispecific bnAb, called BiIA-SG, that blocks two essential steps of HIV-1 entry into target cells. By attaching to the host protein CD4, BiIA-SG strategically ambushes invading HIV-1 particles to protect CD4+ T-cells.

The researchers further demonstrated that BiIA-SG is not only universally effective against all genetically divergent global HIV-1 strains tested, but also promotes the elimination of latently infected cells in a humanized mouse model.

The article can be found at: Wu et al. (2018) Tandem Bispecific Neutralizing Antibody Eliminates HIV-1 infection in Humanized Mice.


Source: University of Hong Kong; Photo: Pixabay.
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