New HIV Antibody: Reveals New HIV Vulnerability

It has recently been discovered that a new HIV antibody, known as 35O22, binds itself to a spot on the HIV cell walls—one that was not previously recognized as a vulnerable location. This viral spike, which is located in an area straddling the proteins gp41 and gp120, is weak to the antibody. Because of this, 35O22 is able to bind to the HIV cell and actually neutralizes several strains of the virus. This new HIV antibody has many researchers cautiously hopeful, as the discovery could turn out to be extremely significant.

Over half of the known HIV strains, roughly 60 percent, are affected by the 35O22 antibody. In laboratory tests, moreover, the antibody actually prevented these strains of HIV from infecting other cells. More good news is that the antibody is very potent, which means only a small amount of the antibody is needed to neutralize the virus. After discovering 35O22, scientists and researchers have identified other 35O22-like antibodies that are common in groups of HIV-infected people. Indeed, their blood contains antibodies that could potentially neutralize most of the known HIV strains. This suggests that a vaccine could elicit 35O22 much easier than other less common bNAbs (Broadly Neutralizing HIV-1 Antibodies) – the grouping of antibodies 35O22 belongs in.

Researchers also report that the strains of HIV that 35O22 neutralizes compliments the strains neutralized by other bNAbs. This means that combining 35O22 with some of the other bNAbs in a vaccine, prevention treatment, or therapy could produce a single solution to the problem of HIV: the complete neutralization of the vast majority of HIV strains found around the globe. This new HIV antibody and the exposure of a new vulnerability in the HIV cell is therefore very significant. In fact, it could mean a potential cure for HIV by way of preventing all known strains of the virus from replicating.