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New therapy offers triple threat to HIV virus

Published on 22/09/17 at 08:35am

Sanofi and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have combined to create a potential HIV therapy that was shown to effectively protect all animals treated with the antibody.

The antibody is unusual by design as it is has been engineered to latch onto the HIV virus at three different points, and early research suggests this could be key to overcoming resistance from the virus. The therapy is derived from a natural antibody that has been genetically engineered to produce this three-pronged attack.

“Combinations of antibodies that each bind to a distinct site on HIV may best overcome the defences of the virus in the effort to achieve effective antibody-based treatment and prevention,” said Anthony S. Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the NIH. “The concept of having a single antibody that binds to three unique sites on HIV is certainly an intriguing approach for investigators to pursue.”

The development of the antibody involved testing a number of bispecific and trispecific antibodies to determine which proved to be the most effective; the ability to determine this involved technology unique to Sanofi.

Testing involved rhesus monkeys and two different strains of SHIV, a monkey form of HIV, before treating two groups with two different antibodies designed to protect against one strain of the virus. A separate group were given the trispecific antibody. Five days after the moneys were exposed to both SHIV strains, with most of the two groups only treated with one antibody becoming infected. The promising part of the results showed that in the group treated with the trispecific antibody none of the moneys were infected.

The next step for the antibody will be to determine its safety in humans during Phase 1 trials, with Sanofi being responsible for the manufacture of the therapy and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) being responsible for the testing.

“The partnership between NIAID and Sanofi has been invaluable and allows us to move this trispecific antibody from the lab and preclinical testing into the clinic,” said Dr. John Mascola of the NIAID.

Ben Hargreaves

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