Scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have identified a antibody named N6 that effectively neutralized 98% of HIV strains tested, including 16 of 20 strains that are resistant to other antibodies.
The press release announcing the discovery explained, “N6 blocks infection by binding to a part of the HIV envelope called the CD4 binding site, preventing the virus from attaching itself to immune cells.” In 2010, a similar antibody called VRC01 was discovered, which operated the same way as N6 and blocked up to 90% of HIV strains.
This discovery is a great leap forward in research on treating and preventing HIV. Several small differences make N6 a more effective antibody than VRC01; most notably, it can better handle the rapidly-changing HIV envelope, a problem that has made the search for neutralizing antibodies difficult. Another difference between N6 and other antibodies is that scientists may be able to administer it subcutaneously instead of intravenously.
NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci said, “The discovery and characterization of this antibody with exceptional breadth and potency against HIV provides an important new lead for the development of strategies to prevent and treat HIV infection.”
Learn more in the NIH’s official press release!