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Antibody Related Research

Research on broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) is taking HIV prevention science in new directions, with implications for new prevention interventions and vaccine development.

Antibodies are produced by the immune system to clear infected cells and pathogens in the bloodstream. Antibodies can also be reproduced in a lab or manufactured and given to people.

Broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) against HIV develop naturally in some people after many years of living with HIV, but far too few and too late to provide benefit for that individual. Those same bNAbs might still be effective for prevention and in fact, scientists have been able to isolate bNAbs that are highly effective at neutralizing different strains of HIV, at least in the lab. These bNAbs typically target sites on the surface of the virus that are especially slow to mutate. At these sites, bNAbs bind to the virus and block it from attaching and infecting cells in the body.

Once one of these highly effective bNAbs is identified it can be reproduced—either in the lab or via small-scale manufacturing—in sufficient quantities to do a trial to see if the neutralization seen in the lab translates to preventing HIV infection in people. In the prevention trials to date, the antibody is delivered via infusion or injection. This is a form of what is known as passive immunization. Passive immunization provides an immune response as opposed to immunization via a vaccine, which teaches the body to make a response.

The most advanced clinical research on bNAbs for HIV prevention, the AMP study, is evaluating VRCO1 via infusion to test if it protects against HIV infection. Dozens of other bNAbs are in earlier phases of research.

What We're Reading

Results of a “proof of concept” study presented at the virtual 4th HIV Research for Prevention Conference last week showed that one particular broadly neutralising monoclonal antibody (bNAb) – called VRC01 – prevented HIV infection in over 70 percent of people exposed to strains of HIV that is sensitive to this particular bNAb.

February 8, 2021
Antibody Related Research, Cure
Spotlight

New pivotal research, the first of its kind to announce results, builds on ideas from vaccination and tests a new idea: whether special antibodies — the type that can help someone fight off multiple forms of the virus — can be used to prevent HIV infection.

January 27, 2021
Antibody Related Research
Bhekisisa

It has taken more than 4 years and $119 million for HIV researchers to test whether giving people infusions of antibodies made in a lab can protect them from the AIDS virus. Now, the unsatisfying answer is in: sometimes.

January 26, 2021
Antibody Related Research
Science Magazine
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