Caltech team designs a new and improved HIV antibody

A team at Caltech has come up with a design for a new and improved antibody for neutralizing HIV. And they say that following their lead could open the door to a new set of HIV programs that could be moved into the clinic.

Starting with the knowledge that NIH45-46 already has a solid rep in the antibody field for its application in combating the virus that triggers AIDS, the scientists stepped back to consider how it worked, and how some tweaks could make it bind more effectively to its target. "Our new antibody is now arguably the best of the currently available, broadly neutralizing anti-HIV antibodies," says Caltech's Pamela Bjorkman, the senior author of the study.

Observing the influence that gp120 plays in HIV transmission, the scientists calculated that they could come up with a new model that would be better at interfering with the protein, which lies on the surface of the virus and plays a big role in transmission. By doing a better job interfering with the protein, the new and improved antibody could be more useful covering more subtypes of HIV.

"The results uncover the structural underpinnings of anti-HIV antibody breadth and potency, offer a new view of neutralization by CD4-binding site anti-HIV antibodies, and establish principles that may enable the creation of a new group of HIV therapeutics," says Bjorkman, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

- here's the press release