"Unlike antibodies, which fail to neutralise a large fraction of HIV-1 strains, our protein has been effective against all strains tested, raising the possibility it could offer an effective HIV vaccine alternative," said lead researcher Michael Farzan, professor at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), Florida.

Tested in monkeys, the new drug candidate blocks every strain of HIV-1, HIV-2 and SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus) that has been isolated from humans or rhesus macaques, including the hardest-to-stop variants, the findings showed.

It also protects against much-higher doses of virus than occur in most human transmission and does so for at least eight months after injection, the researchers noted."Our compound is the broadest and most potent entry inhibitor described so far," Farzan added.

When HIV infects a cell, it targets the CD4 lymphocyte, an integral part of the body's immune system. The new study builds on previous discoveries by the Farzan laboratory, which show that a co-receptor called CCR5 contains unusual modifications in its critical HIV-binding region, and that proteins based on this region can be used to prevent infection.

The study was published online in the journal Nature.

 

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