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Aids: Researchers have discovered 17 antibodies against the HIV virus
Scientists around the world have been looking for effective therapies for the immune deficiency disease AIDS for almost 30 years. Again and again, researchers announced first successes that allegedly suppress the HI virus. So far, however, without resounding therapeutic success. California researchers are now reporting to have discovered 17 new antibodies that could be effective against AIDS viruses.
Resistant immunoglobulins determined
Are American scientists one step further in the fight against AIDS? A team of researchers led by Laura Walker from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California report that they discovered 17 antibodies that apparently effectively fight HIV viruses. In one study, they took immunoglobulins from the blood of four HIV-infected people. What is special is that all four test subjects have so far been resistant to the HI virus, so that the actual immune deficiency disease has not yet broken out. In more than 10 percent of those infected with HIV, the human immune system develops its own antibodies that act against many types of the AIDS virus. This finding has been used intensively in research for several years.
A cross-test on 162 different HI viruses showed that the newly discovered antibodies acted about ten to one hundred times more potent than previously measured antibodies. Even if the antibodies were only present in very low concentrations, they could still render up to 50 percent of the viruses that cause AIDS harmless. It was shown that a large number of the immunoglobulins were highly potent against a large number of the pathogens.
Defense bodies were able to neutralize the widespread type C AIDS virus. The antibodies were able to render the type C AIDS virus harmless, which is particularly widespread on the sub-Saharan African continent. About half of all AIDS patients around the world are infected with this virus strain. Very adaptable viruses such as hepatitis C, HIV, and flu viruses have so far negated any attempt to develop an active ingredient, as the researchers report in the journal "Nature". The globally circulating and diverse mutated virus variants have failed all previous attempts to find a potential antibody. According to the study director, a mixture of different and potent immunoglobulins could help to achieve a first breakthrough in the search for a vaccine. The first step was taken by successfully isolating the various and widely neutralizing antibodies from several people. Here there is hope that "an antibody-based vaccine can be achieved," explained Laura Walker.
Immunoglobulins are proteins that form antigens on viral or bacterial invaders. From this, antibodies develop that support the immune system. Blood was drawn from around 1,800 HIV patients for the study. Using the isolated antibodies from the four donors, the researchers examined whether and in what form AIDS viruses are inhibited or neutralized. Four blood sera were particularly effective and successfully pushed back a large number of pathogens. These were then used for further research. From this, the scientists isolated the B-memory cells, i.e. cells that produce antibodies. With the help of a gene analysis, genes were determined in the cells that programmed immunoglobulins particularly effectively. This then resulted in 17 monoclonal antibodies in which the efficiency was examined.
In 2010, researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda (NIH) discovered naturally active antibodies called VRC01 and VRC02 in the blood of an AIDS patient. These prevented the HI viruses from penetrating so that the disease could not break out. Since then, this approach has been pursued intensively in AIDS research. However, research continued to stall and only a few results made it into clinical trials with test phase III, in which a serum is also administered to human subjects.
Conventional approach to antibody vaccination The most successful studies to date have been delivered by researchers as part of a research project carried out in Thailand. From 2003 to 2009, a study was carried out with more than 16,000 people. The participants were given a combination drug from two different vaccines. One part contained a bird pox virus genetically infected with HI virus proteins and the other part an isolated virus protein. The method is known in the professional world as "active immunization", in which the immune system is to be stimulated in order to produce suitable antibodies against the AIDS virus. However, the method was only moderately successful, since only a success rate of 31 percent was achieved. In addition, the results are repeatedly scrutinized because active immunization only worked against individual strains. Therefore, the conventional approach to antibody vaccination could take a new direction in research. However, years, if not decades, can pass before an effective preparation is developed. The obviously tricky AIDS virus has managed to defend itself against every approach over the past 30 years. (sb)
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