Scientists have identified an antibody that could be crucial in potentially treating or preventing HIV infection.
This critical antibody in the quest for HIV prevention and treatment was discovered by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This antibody has been found to be extremely effective, as it neutralises 98% of HIV strains.
Interestingly, it’s even effective against 16 out of the 20 HIV strains that are resistant to other antibodies. As most of you probably know, HIV is a rapidly changing virus which makes it incredibly hard to identify effective antibodies, making it very hard to find effective treatments for the condition.
The newly identified antibody, labelled N6, is being likened to the previously discovered antibody VRC01 which is effective against 90% of strains. The NIH have released a report that says N6 “blocks infection by binding to a part of the HIV envelope called the CD4 binding site, preventing the virus from attaching itself to immune cells.”
It also has advantages over VRC01: “The new findings suggest that N6 could pose advantages over VRC01, which currently is being assessed as intravenous infusions in clinical trials to see if it can safely prevent HIV infection in humans. Due to its potency, N6 may offer stronger and more durable prevention and treatment benefits, and researchers may be able to administer it subcutaneously (into the fat under the skin) rather than intravenously. In addition, its ability to neutralize nearly all HIV strains would be advantageous for both prevention and treatment strategies.”
While it’s a long road before we see N6 being used, as VRC01 is in clinical trials after being discovered in 2010, the antibody’s potency still offers the potential for stronger and more durable treatments and prevention for HIV.