By Daniel Smith
Scientists have created an antibody that attacks nearly all HIV strains and has successfully prevented the infection in primates.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health and the pharmaceutical company Sanofi worked together to create the antibody, which destroys three essential parts of the virus so that it becomes harder for it to build up a resistance.
The scientists engineered broadly neutralizing antibodies, which a small number of patients have developed after years of infection that attack a majority of HIV strains, to create the three-antibody combination that aids in blocking the virus’ ability to mutate.
“They are more potent and have greater breadth than any single naturally occurring antibody that’s been discovered,” Sanofi’s chief scientific officer, Dr. Gary Nabel, told BBC News. “We’re getting 99% coverage, and getting coverage at very low concentrations of the antibody.”
Researchers gave 24 monkeys the tri-specific antibody before infecting them with the virus, and reported that none of them developed an infection.
The study was published in the journal Science and announced that human trials to test the antibody will begin in 2018.