Antibodies show effectiveness for HIV prevention and promise for treatment and cure

January 17, 2018, University of North Carolina Health Care
David Margolis, M.D., leads the UNC HIV Cure Center. Credit: David Kinton, UNC School of Medicine

The ability of HIV to mutate has been a major challenge to vaccine development. As the body produces antibodies to target the outer HIV envelope protein, this protein changes, thwarting the circulating antibodies' ability to neutralize it. Yet recent studies testing multivalent combinations of three broadly neutralizing antibodies, or bnAbs, have yielded promising results in animal models of HIV prevention. Two investigators at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill describe the potential of bnAbs to inform HIV prevention, treatment and cure strategies in a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"BnAbs are thought to be akin to signposts - that they point to a path that might be followed by a future HIV vaccine strategy through induction of bnAbs capable of preventing HIV infection," said David Margolis, M.D., article co-author and director of the UNC HIV Cure Center.

No single bnAb can protect against all the variants of HIV present in infected individuals. However, combinations of multiple bnAbs provide increased efficacy. The development of trispecific multivalent antibodies combine the best attributes of each into a single molecule capable of recognizing and neutralizing multiple viruses not recognized by the individual bnAbs.

"Trispecific antibodies engage a broader range of than do monospecific and bispecific antibodies," said J. Victor Garcia, Ph.D., article co-author and a professor of medicine at UNC. "Trispecific antibodies may also block infection more efficiently at mucosal surfaces and within deeper tissue as well as neutralize a wider range of viral particles."

The authors also detail how bnAbs could change HIV treatment and cure research. Broadly neutralizing antibodies may contribute to the deployment of long-acting antiretroviral therapy, which would be an attractive alternative for people who currently take daily medication to control their HIV. In the cure arena, bnAbs could be paired with latency reversing agents to target and clear the virus.

J. Victor Garcia, Ph.D., is a professor of medicine at UNC. Credit: David Kinton, UNC School of Medicine

"Broadly neutralizing antibodies capable of recognizing HIV-infected cells could direct effector cells to clear the latent reservoir," Margolis said. "In the case of the evasive HIV envelope, three may be the charm."

Explore further: Barrier to autoimmune disease may open door to HIV, study suggests

Related Stories

Barrier to autoimmune disease may open door to HIV, study suggests

July 11, 2017
Researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine have discovered that a process that protects the body from autoimmune disease also prevents the immune system from generating antibodies that can neutralize the ...

Broadly neutralizing HIV antibodies engineered to be better vaccine leads

August 25, 2016
One approach to HIV vaccine development relies on broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) that protect against different circulating HIV strains. bnAbs have been isolated from HIV-infected individuals, but they are highly ...

New findings to help HIV scientists establish 'template' for potent antibodies

November 21, 2017
New data published today in Immunity further illuminate how some human beings generate powerful, HIV-blocking antibodies. Led by scientists at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and The Scripps Research Institute ...

Study reveals new clues to how a successful HIV vaccine could work

September 12, 2017
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have made a discovery that could speed efforts to develop a successful HIV vaccine.

Mechanism found for development of protective HIV antibodies

July 24, 2014
Scientists at Duke Medicine have found an immunologic mechanism that makes broadly neutralizing antibodies in people who are HIV-1 infected.

Scientists create new tool for identifying powerful HIV antibodies

May 9, 2013
A team of NIH scientists has developed a new tool to identify broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) capable of preventing infection by the majority of HIV strains found around the globe, an advance that could help speed ...

Recommended for you

New simulation tool predicts how well HIV-prophylaxis will work

June 14, 2018
A new mathematical simulation approach predicts the efficacy of pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medications, which help prevent HIV infection. The framework, presented in PLOS Computational Biology by Sulav Duwal ...

Many at risk for HIV despite lifesaving pill

June 11, 2018
Multiple barriers may stop high-risk individuals from accessing an HIV drug that can reduce the subsequent risk of infection, according to a new University of Michigan study.

Active HIV in large white blood cells may drive cognitive impairment in infected mice

June 7, 2018
Macrophages, large white blood cells that engulf and destroy potential pathogens, harbor active viral reserves that appear to play a key role in impaired learning and memory in mice infected with a rodent version of HIV. ...

HIV vaccine elicits antibodies in animals that neutralize dozens of HIV strains

June 4, 2018
An experimental vaccine regimen based on the structure of a vulnerable site on HIV elicited antibodies in mice, guinea pigs and monkeys that neutralize dozens of HIV strains from around the world. The findings were reported ...

HIV study reveals new group of men at risk of infection

June 4, 2018
A group of men who may be underestimating their HIV risk has been identified in a new study.

Discovery reveals how cells try to control levels of key HIV protein

May 31, 2018
One of the many challenges in treating HIV is that the virus can lie dormant in cells, quietly evading immune detection until it suddenly roars to life without warning and begins replicating furiously. Salk Institute researchers ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.