Scientists working in the team of Drs. Clore and Bewley at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH), have detected a new epitope on the HIV-Protein gp41 using antibodies generated by AbD Serotec from the MorphoSys HuCAL GOLD antibody library and demonstrated the antibody's capability to neutralize diverse laboratory-adapted B-strains of HIV-1 and primary isolates of subtypes A, B and C. Their results have been published in the Journal of Virology.
The ability of HIV to escape a neutralizing immune response has been a major challenge of the vaccine development effort. To date, only four potent and broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies derived from infected patients have been reported but escape mutants of HIV have been described.
Using a chimeric version of HIV-1 protein gp41 provided by Dr. G. Marius Clore for antibody selection, AbD Serotec successfully selected the first broadly neutralizing recombinant mini-antibody. The synthetically derived Fab-fragment targets a new epitope on the HIV-1 protein gp41 which is a potential target for therapeutic intervention being crucial in the process of envelope mediated cell fusion between virus and victim cell.