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Scientists Discover Antibody That Neutralizes 98% of HIV Strains (inquisitr.com) 90

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Inquisitr: The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) announced this week that a "remarkable" breakthrough has been made in the study of preventing and treating the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that leads to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), according to a press release posted on the agency's official website. The breakthrough centers around the discovery of a powerful antibody named N6 that is highly effective in both binding to the surface of the HIV virus and neutralizing it. The former has proved elusive in the past. "Identifying broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV has been difficult because the virus rapidly changes its surface proteins to evade recognition by the immune system," the press release explains. The antibody was initially discovered in an HIV-positive person and has since proven to potentially neutralize 98 percent of HIV isolates, "including 16 of 20 strains resistant to other antibodies of the same class," according to the press release. Researchers have had previous success with other antibodies, but N6 appears to be more effective. The new discovery has potential benefits far beyond preventing and treating HIV as well. Studying exactly how N6 works could potentially lead to breakthroughs in other anti-viral antibodies. "Findings from the current study showed that N6 evolved a unique mode of binding that depends less on a variable area of the HIV envelope known as the V5 region and focuses more on conserved regions, which change relatively little among HIV strains," NIAID explains. "This allows N6 to tolerate changes in the HIV envelope, including the attachment of sugars in the V5 region, a major mechanism by which HIV develops resistance to other VRC01-class antibodies. Due to its potency, N6 may offer stronger and more durable prevention and treatment benefits, and researchers may be able to administer it subcutaneously (into the fat under the skin) rather than intravenously. In addition, its ability to neutralize nearly all HIV strains would be advantageous for both prevention and treatment strategies."
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Scientists Discover Antibody That Neutralizes 98% of HIV Strains

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  • One of my biggest academic regrets... no organic chem, no serious cellular biology. Such an exciting time in those fields these days.

    • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Saturday November 19, 2016 @12:38AM (#53320271) Journal

      One of my biggest academic regrets... no organic chem, no serious cellular biology. Such an exciting time in those fields these days.

      I guess so. My kid, who was working on a PhD in Math (like her mom) suddenly up and decided to change to some kind of "bio-mathematics" that has all sorts of the stuff you mentioned. Since my academic career was strictly in the Humanities, I don't have a clue about any of it, but it sounds like there's a lot of stuff going on. Some big lab recruited her to work there while she's finishing her degree and damned if she's not making as much as an associate professor. And she'll be graduating without a dime of debt, which makes Mom and I happy, since we told her we'd cover the cost of her education. Maybe now I can buy that sports car.

      Me, I wish I'd learned HVAC. People will always need ducts in their houses, and heat and cooling. And there's very little math, which is good.

      • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Saturday November 19, 2016 @02:58AM (#53320539)

        And there's very little math, which is good.

        How little you know about HVAC.

        • How little you know about HVAC.

          I just want to bend sheet metal. I have a TI-83 to do the math.

      • ...and damned if she's not making as much as an associate professor.

        Well, judging by the contents of my (virtual) salary envelope they're probably underpaying her then... :-) (I have recent bachelor's and master's making more than I do).

        Just saying that "associate professor" may not be setting the bar very high when it comes to payment for services rendered. (Depending on lots, and lots of factors of course, including field and where in the world etc., to on a more serious note).

        Me, I wish I'd learned HVAC. People will always need ducts in their houses, and heat and cooling. And there's very little math, which is good.

        I remember when I was a PhD student doing "the grind" and how we all used to say that we should

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Consider coding for projects like Rosetta Protein Structure Design. It's open source and can be used to design antibodies. They need good coders.
      https://www.rosettacommons.org

  • 98 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Friday November 18, 2016 @10:51PM (#53319929)

    >"Identifying broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV has been difficult because the virus rapidly changes" ... "since proven to potentially neutralize 98 percent of HIV isolates"

    So the remaining 2% quickly change to be resistant and in a few years we are back where we started again? 98% sounds great for some things. But if you had 200 fleas and got rid of 396, those remaining 4 can potentially become 200 again pretty quickly.

    • by skids ( 119237 )

      Depends how widespread those strains are. It's not the 1980s, so improved detection/prevention could buy us quite some time, during which medicine still gets to progress.

    • Re:98 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by KBentley57 ( 2017780 ) on Friday November 18, 2016 @11:00PM (#53319967)
      I'd say this is a pretty pessimistic viewpoint. If we could eliminate HIV in 98% of patients today, it'd go a long way in terms of eradication. Combined with preventative care, you'd be looking at just over 1 million lives changed for the better in the US alone. Not only that, but the time gained from 2% -> 100% again (worst case scenario) would give needed time for further research.
      • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )
        You're neutralizing 98% of HIV strains, not eliminating it in 98% of patients. You might be eliminating HIV in 99.999% of patients or 1% of patients, depending upon how prevalent the 2% of HIV strains (at least 1 strain) are.
    • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Saturday November 19, 2016 @01:43AM (#53320417)

      Well not exactly.
      The discovery of an antibody that targets a non-variable site is important in several ways. I'm not sure how good a therapeutic drug it will make. Antibodies are huge and hard to make so depending on the dose required it could be prohibitive to inject enough of the stuff in an active form to do any good. Massive proteins often are lousy drugs. THat's not to say that antibodies can't be used as drugs. There's a lot that are on the market now, for example Humira. But that's going after receptors in the host not viruses so it's a different regime.

      But what is good about this is three things. You learn where you can bind on the virus, you learn the binding mode of the contact points, and finally you learn that that binding mode is protective across most HIV. It's not uncommon to have something that binds HIV well but fails to be protective. Given this structural knowledge one can now try to design either small molecules or other smaller proteins than an anti-body that bind in a similar manner and target either the same binding site or the same origins of protection.

    • Given this is how pretty much every drug on the market works, what is your problem with it?

    • >But if you had 200 fleas and got rid of 396

      Obviously I made a typo on that and meant 400. But apparently everyone got my meaning.

      In any case, lots of good replies about how although this isn't a cure, it can help to focus research and effort on the remaining 2% and help lots of people in the meanwhile.

      • Obviously I made a typo on that and meant 400.

        Two typos. The first one, and the "400" in the quoted text. 396 of 400 is 99%, not 98.

        Obviously, your typo was the 396, which should have been 196....

  • So, they've found James Delmore Shapely [antonraubenweiss.com]. Took them a while longer than Gibson thought, but the good part (I guess) is that the Big Quake is still up there in the future.

  • The other day I said that BeauHD posts crap. I compared him to that AKB guy who used to post ridiculous diatribes about hosts files, becuase he was apparently unaware of why hosts files didn't work and had to be replaced by DNS.

    Anyway, I talked shit about BeauHD's submissions, so it's only fair that I now acknowledge this is a very interesting story that does belong on Slashdot. Much better than some other submissions.

    • by kuzb ( 724081 )
      Call me when he shows a pattern of not posting shit. Then maybe we can celebrate. Maybe.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      He wrote "HIV virus". *Any* story or summary that uses the phrase "HIV virus" is absolute crap and should be treated as such. I glanced through the paper itself and its also really not that great. Its an evolution of earlier work done looking for broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV, they did some basic in vitro work to show that their antibody could potently interact with a variety of strains of HIV, then did a bunch of structural work. The paper is missing any in vivo work and it makes one wond

  • preposition ending. i know.
    • > preposition ending. i know.

      Ending with a GRATUITOUS is bad. "Where is Bob at?" means exactly the same thing as "where is Bob?", so you shouldn't add "at" to the end, as it serves no purpose.

      http://blog.oxforddictionaries... [oxforddictionaries.com]

  • Congrats NIAID (Score:4, Interesting)

    by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Saturday November 19, 2016 @12:19AM (#53320215) Homepage Journal

    Let me be the first (seriously, the first despite so many other assholes who already posted) to congratulate them on this discovery. Sadly, I'm quite sure this is not a cure since I don't see how it would affect infected cells, but at least it can prevent the spread both within the body and transmission to other people.

  • It seems like we're exposed to some kind of "major breakthrough" every few months that never amounts to anything. Is this really what it appears to be, or is there some "that's all great, but..." part that people who aren't biochemist/medical professionals are missing? I'd really like to hear from people with actual medical training on this one instead of people who read three wikipedia articles and now think they know kung-fu.
  • But I did not read that they have figured out how to cause a person to produce this antibody. In fact, the article talked about infusing people with antibodies, but not about some vaccine that might cause people to produce the antibodies themselves. I expect that this is being pursued. Until that pursuit yields results, I don't know that this discovery will be able to counterbalance risky behavior very much.
  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Saturday November 19, 2016 @03:14AM (#53320561)

    Corrected headline:

    "Persons Immune System Discovers Antibody That Neutralizes 98% of HIV Strains; Scientists Take Credit"

    Betting pool on how long it takes to patent, and who gets the patent, starts now...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Betting pool on how long it takes to patent, and who gets the patent, starts now...

      The antibody was certainly patented before publication, or some lawyers will be fired.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Nah, the headline is correct. It says they "Discovered" it, not "Invented it". If you find an island, earth didn't discover it. Earth created it. You discovered it.

      Also, regarding patents, since this was discovered by a government agency (NIAID), hopefully there will be no patent at this stage, or at least not one that requires leasing. This is one of the great things about government funded research that is actually done by a government organization, rather than farmed out to the for-profit community.

  • Will defund these agencies.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Hope so, they are stealing american jobs: J Huang, BH Kang, E Ishida, T Zhou et al.

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