• Barbara Moran

    Barbara Moran, Senior Science Writer

    Barbara Moran is a science writer in Brookline, Mass. Profile

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There are 7 comments on Developing a New Weapon Against HIV

  1. A good idea, it will be interesting to see the results of the clinical trial. Some pitfalls might include:

    1. An effective immunoprophylactic strategy to combat HIV might involve using broadly neutralizing antibodies, are these the antibodies being used?

    2. Is it possible that the antibodies which would be effective at the mucosal level are completely different from what is partially effective in the blood stream and organs?

    3. There have been some disappointments with microbials and HIV prevention. Realistically, is it possible to obtain 100% mucosal coverage with the plantibodies? Especially considering the high mucosal turnover rate? While a 40% effective plantibody microbial would be a great scientific advance, on a public health level, is it ethical to produce and prescribe a medication which is only partially effective and might lure women into a state of complacency?

  2. Mark,
    Thank you for the positive feedback. We are indeed pioneering this research with two of the most potent broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV, VRC01 and 4E10. We will be testing plantibodies configured as secretory IgA molecules, a type of antibody that is normally found in mucosal secretions and not in blood, and hypothesize that they will provide better protection against STIs than IgG type antibodies found in blood. We are hopeful that our plantibody microbicide gel/ring will be more effective than the microbicide products tested to date.

  3. Thank you for the response, you are certainly completing fascinating research. My question regarding using IgA mucosal antibodies is that broadly neutralizing antibodies such as VRCO1 were first identified in blood (?). I guess they have isolated IgA antibodies from mucosal secretions, but I wonder if anyone has looked at mucosal secretions in attempt to identify which specific IgAs are involved in a protective response at the mucosal level. Such as in the case where VRCO1 in IgG form circulating in the blood slows down HIV progression, whereas VRCO1 in IgA form is simply a “byproduct” of the immune response to HIV?

    I guess the “proof in the pudding” will be continued tests in monkeys.

    Also, I guess I would theoretically be concerned when designing the clinical trial as IUDs increase the risk of HIV (?), and so a vaginal ring might lead to increased mucosal inflammation and increased risk of HIV infection?

    Amazing work as it could potentially save millions of lives!

  4. Interesting research. It will be nice to know what compounds in the so-called plantibodies are effective in combating the HIV virus. Perhaps also a study can be carried out to see if there exists a correlation between casual or chain smokers and HIV prevalence. That way the scientists can also test the efficacy of the tobacco based plantibodies. I think that’ll be worth trying too.

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