NIH scientists identify a Potent Antibody N6, that Nuetralises 98% of HIV strains - chaprama | Insights from the world of Technology and Lifestyle


Friday, November 18, 2016

NIH scientists identify a Potent Antibody N6, that Nuetralises 98% of HIV strains

hiv stain
Scanning electron micrograph of an HIV-infected T-cell. Credit: NIAID

With the rapid development of science and technology, researchers were successful almost  against every challenge posed by various diseases except AIDS.It   is caused by HIV virus (Human immune deficiency) virus. Although intense research is in progress with regard to AIDS, researchers enjoyed little success. 

Now a giant leap towards eradicating AIDS has been achieved. Scientists from National Institutes of Health(NIH), the largest biomedical research agency in the world led by Dr. Mark Connors,has reported the identification of an antibody called N6 that neutralizes almost 98% of HIV strains tested.They isolated the antibody from HIV-infected patient. This is a giant leap towards the development of a successful vaccine against HIV. Developing an antibody against HIV has been very challenging because the virus changes its surface proteins so rapidly and thus avoid recognized by the body's immune system.

The remarkable breadth and potency of this antibody, called N6, make it an attractive candidate for further development to potentially treat or prevent HIV infection,” Dr. Connors and co-authors said.

An antibody is a protein produced by immune system in response to infection caused by bacteria and viruses.Their role involve either neutralizing the pathogens directly or evoke a signal to white blood cells to destroy them.Previously in 2010, scientists at National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID’s) Vaccine Research Center (VRC) discovered an antibody called VRC01. This antibody have the capability to  stop up to 90 percent of HIV strains from infecting human cells. 

hiv stain2
Scanning electron micrograph of HIV-1 budding (in green) from cultured lymphocyte

The mechanism of N6 antibody is very much similar to VRC01. It binds to HIV envelope called CD4 binding site and prevents the virus getting attaching to immune cells. In general antibody contains two sites variable area and conserved region. Most of the binding in an immune response happens in the variable area. However, Antibody N6, is unique as its main focus is in conserved region of HIV envelope which is almost stable. 

This facilitates N6 to tolerate changes in the HIV envelope that include binding of sugars in the V5 region,a major mechanism by which HIV develops resistance to other VRC01 class molecules. The newly discovered antibody N6 is reported to be more potent than its predecessor VRC01 which belong to the same class as N6. 

Currently, N6 has progressed to phase II clinical trials in human patients after successfully in monkeys for 6 months against HIV infections. N6, when exposed to 181strain of HIV Even managed to destroy 98% of them including 16 of 20strains that are resistant to antibodies of the same class.

Researchers noted that N6, due to its striking potency offers stronger and more durable protection when injected subcutaneously (beneath the skin) rather than Intravenously.  The team’s findings, are published in the Nov. 15 issue of the Journal Immunity.

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