An NIH-led team of scientists has discovered a new vulnerability in the armor of HIV that a vaccine, other preventive regimen or treatment could exploit. The site straddles two proteins, gp41 and gp120, that jut out of the virus and augments other known places where broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) bind to HIV. This newly identified site on the viral spike is where a new antibody found by the scientists in an HIV-infected person binds to the virus. Called 35O22, the antibody prevents 62 percent of known HIV strains from infecting cells in the laboratory and is extremely potent, meaning even a relatively small amount of it can neutralize the virus.
J Huang et al. Broad and potent HIV-1 neutralization by a human antibody that binds the gp41-120 interface. Nature DOI: 10.1038/nature13601 (2014).
Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of NIH, is available for comment. Mark Connors, M.D., chief of the HIV-Specific Immunity Section of the NIAID Laboratory of Immunoregulation and the principal investigator of the study, also is available for interviews.
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