Scientists from leading immunology institutes joined forces and discovered a novel antibody that neutralized 98% of all tested HIV strains, including the ones resistant to most other types of antibodies.

HIV infection is a global epidemic with no known cure to date, mainly due to the virus´s ability to rapidly respond to the host´s immune defences. This is also the reason why robust antibodies, capable of blocking a broad range of strains, are very hard to come by.

In a recent upset the National Institute of Health (NIH) reports that a novel antibody, named N6, has shown ten times greater potency in binding and immobilizing the HIV virus than the clinical phase II VRC01 antibody – one of our most promising HIV treatments. It seemingly neutralized nearly all of the 181 strains tested, including 16 of 20 resistant to other antibodies of the same class. N6 was isolated from an HIV infected patient and evolved from the same lineage as VRC01.

The reason behind the new antibody´s incredible affinity most likely lays in it´s ability to target a specific part of the virus, known as the V5 region, that is not prone to mutational changes. This way, N6 was able to strongly bind to most strains of HIV and avoid so-called steric clashes, enabling it to prevent the virus from attaching to immune cells – what makes HIV so damaging.

“N6 evolved such that its binding was relatively insensitive to the absence or loss of individual contacts typically found in the VRC01 class,” the team reports.

The team further states that their discovery could lead to the development of an efficient anti-viral treatment administered as a vaccine, which would serve as a preventive measure to battle the disease.

Interested in learning more about this recent development? Check out the video bellow:


By Luka Zupančič, MSc, University of Applied Sciences Technikum Vienna