TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

NIH scientists discover new HIV antibody

The National Institutes of Health said on Wednesday that a team of scientists discovered an HIV antibody that could be effective in fighting the disease.

The antibody, called 35O22, prevents 62 percent of known HIV strains from infecting cells. The researchers said a relatively small amount of the antibody can neutralize the virus.

The NIH-led team of scientists said that the antibody binds to the same novel target as other broadly neutralizing antibodies. The site straddles two proteins that jut out of the virus.

The scientists also found that 35O22-like antibodies were common in HIV-infected patients whose blood contained antibodies that neutralized a variety of strains of the virus. The researchers said that the discovery hints that a vaccine may be able to elicit 35022 more easily than other antibodies.

The NIH team said that because 35O22 only binds to viral spikes that closely resemble those that naturally occur in HIV, any vaccines that elicit 35O22-like antibodies will need to mimic the natural shape as closely as possible. The development of those vaccines would require a different approach than in the past, as previous experimental HIV vaccines only used parts of the viral spike.

The scientists also said that by eliciting 35O22 with other broadly neutralizing antibodies, a vaccine or treatment could be developed that would neutralize most HIV strains in the world.

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