A team led by Scripps Research Institute biologists has figured out the structure of a rare but naturally occurring antibody which effectively destroys nearly 100 strains of HIV.
The body makes many antibodies against HIV, but they are almost always unable to neutralize the virus. Nonetheless, the immune systems of some patients with HIV have beaten the odds and have produced effective neutralizing antibodies. The structure of one of these, called 4E10, is described in the latest issue of the journal Immunity.
"This antibody is very broadly active," says Scripps Research Professor Dennis Burton, Ph.D., who led the research with Scripps Research Professor Ian Wilson, D.Phil. "It neutralized nearly 100 different viral strains of HIV from all over the world. [During tests in the laboratory], every one of them was neutralized."
4E10 was isolated from an HIV-positive individual about a decade ago by Burton and Wilson's collaborator Hermann Katinger, a doctor at the Institute for Applied Microbiology of the University of Agriculture in Vienna, Austria, and one of the authors of the paper.
By solving its structure, the researchers have taken a big step towards being able to construct a "mimic" protein to stimulate the human body to make 4E10 antibodies. The research appears in the February 2005 edition of Immunity. A summary is available for free; the full text of the article is only accessible to journal subscribers.