Scientists engineer antibody that can attack 99% of HIV strains

Scientists have engineered an antibody that can attack 99% of the HIV strains, which effectively prevents infection in primates.

In a collaboration project between the US National Institutes of Health and the pharmaceutical company Sanofi, scientists have engineered an antibody that attacks the three critical parts of the virus thus making it harder for HIV to resist its effects.

Humans struggle to cope with the HIV virus due to its ability to mutate and change appearance, thus, the immune system ends up fighting against an insurmountable number of strains of HIV.

But after years of infection, a small number of patients develop powerful weapons called “broadly neutralising antibodies” that can kill large swaths of HIV strains. Researchers have been trying to use these antibodies as a way to treat HIV.

A study, published in the journal Science, combines three such antibodies into an even more powerful “tri-specific antibody.” The tri-specific antibody is more potent and has greater breadth than any single naturally occurring antibody that’s been discovered.

In a report by the BBC, the International Aids Society said it was an “exciting breakthrough”. Human trials will start in 2018 to see if it can prevent or treat the infection.

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