German Researchers Develop Less Toxic And More Effective HIV Treatment Using Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies That Also Prevent Viral Resistance
Typically antiretroviral drugs are the gold standard for the treatment of HIV
infection. They are highly effective in suppressing replication of the virus but require lifelong daily application and can be associated with side effects. Due to the high mutability of HIV
and its capacity for rapid adaptation, combinations of antiretroviral agents are required to prevent the development of drug resistance
and treatment failure.
(L-F): Dr Henning Gruell, Dr Philipp Schommers and Dr Florian Klein. Credit: Uniklinik Koeln/Thies Schoening
Currently, broadly neutralizing antibodies
are a focus of ongoing research on novel options for the treatment and prevention of HIV
infection. Their mode of action substantially differs from regular antiretroviral drugs, as antibodies target the virus through specific binding of HIV
Recent clinical trials have demonstrated the potential of broadly neutralizing antibodies by reducing the viral load in the blood of HIV
-infected individuals. Similar to antiretroviral drugs, however, the effects of single antibodies were only temporary because of the development of viral resistance
Medical scientists at the University Hospital Cologne have now identified a novel anti-body called antibody 1-18
that targets HIV
. This antibody is highly potent and showed activity against 97% of the tested HIV
Dr. Philipp Schommers, resident physician at the Department I of Internal Medicine, University Hospital Cologne and one of the first authors of the research told Thailand Medical
News via a phone interview, "Antibody 1-18
is therefore among the best HIV broadly neutralizing antibodies
described to date."
In an international collaboration with colleagues at the California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, USA), the researchers identified the mode of action of antibody 1-18
in detail. 1-18 binds and inactivates a surface structure of HIV that is particularly relevant because it is essential for viral infection and replication.
Antibody 1-18 more effective, less toxic and able to overcome viral resistance
For the research, the therapeutic efficacy of the newly identified antibody 1-18
was studied using a mouse model that allows recapitulation of HIV
infection as it occurs in humans. In this model, other broadly neutralizing antibodies
showed only short-term effects because of the rapid development of viral
. In contrast, treatment with the antibody 1-18
resulted in suppression of the viral load that was maintained for the duration of therapy.
Dr. Henning Grüll, resident physician at the Institute of Virology and also first author of the work further commented, "These results indicate that development of viral resistance
against the new antibody 1-18
is restricted when compared to other antibodies."
As a result of the study findings and also due to its high potency, the scientists consider antibody 1-18
a promising candidate for HIV immunotherapy
Prof. Dr. Florian Klein, lead and senior author of the study further added, "In addition, antibody 1-18
has great potential for preventing HIV
infection by passive immunization"
The researchers are planning clinical trials to further investigate antibody 1-18
with two trials scheduled in the first quarter in Germany and also in the US.
Philipp Schommers et al, Restriction of HIV-1 Escape by a Highly Broad and Potent Neutralizing Antibody, Cell
(2020). DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.01.010