The "tri-specific antibody" attacks the virus in 3 different areas.
The greatest challenge researchers face in determining the best strategy to fight HIV is the virus’ propensity to shift and evolve — to change its appearance, creating various strains. BBC reminds us that the variant strains of HIV in a single infected patient can be equivalent to the number of strains of influenza during a worldwide flu season.
Breakthroughs came about after a small group of patients developed “broadly neutralizing antibodies,” sometimes called “super-antibodies.” Researchers use these to treat and prevent infection.
BBC reports that the study, published in the journal Science, involved combining three such antibodies into a “tri-specific antibody” that Dr. Gary Nabel, Chief Scientific Officer at Sanofi, claims has “greater breadth than any single naturally occurring antibody that has been discovered.”
So far, the research team is in the animal testing phase of development. Experiments on 24 monkeys have revealed that those exposed to the “tri-specific antibodies” did not become infected when later injected with HIV. Human trials are expected to begin some time in 2018.
Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci was intrigued by the approach, saying, “Combinations of antibodies that each bind to a distinct site on HIV may best overcome the defenses of the virus in the effort to achieve effective antibody-based treatment and prevention.”
Since you are here…
…we’d like to have one more word with you. We are excited to report that Aleteia’s readership is growing at a rapid rate, world-wide! Our team proves its mission every day by providing high-quality content that informs and inspires a Christian life. But quality journalism has a cost and it’s more than ads can cover. We want our articles to be accessible to everyone, free of charge, but we need your help. To continue our efforts to nourish and inspire our Catholic family, your support is invaluable. Become an Aleteia Patron today for as little as $3 a month. May we count on you?