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UT pathologists believe they have pinpointed Achilles heel of HIV
Date:7/15/2008

otent, broadly neutralizing IgAs directed to the superantigenic region of the gp120 CD4 binding site" and "Prospective clinical utility and evolutionary implication of broadly neutralizing antibody fragments to HIV gp120 superantigenic epitope."

First reported in the early 1980s, HIV has spread across the world, particularly in developing countries. In 2007, 33 million people were living with AIDS, according to a report by the World Health Organization and the United Nations.

Paul's group has engineered antibodies with enzymatic activity, also known as abzymes, which can attack the Achilles heel of the virus in a precise way. "The abzymes recognize essentially all of the diverse HIV forms found across the world. This solves the problem of HIV changeability. The next step is to confirm our theory in human clinical trials," Paul said.

Unlike regular antibodies, abzymes degrade the virus permanently. A single abzyme molecule inactivates thousands of virus particles. Regular antibodies inactivate only one virus particle, and their anti-viral HIV effect is weaker.

"The work of Dr. Paul's group is highly innovative. They have identified antibodies that, instead of passively binding to the target molecule, are able to fragment it and destroy its function. Their recent work indicates that naturally occurring catalytic antibodies, particularly those of the IgA subtype, may be useful in the treatment and prevention of HIV infection," said Steven J. Norris, Ph.D., holder of the Robert Greer Professorship in the Biomedical Sciences and vice chair for research in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the UT Medical School at Houston.

The abzymes are derived from HIV negative people with the autoimmune disease lupus and a small number of HIV positive people who do not require treatment and do not get AIDS. Stephanie Planque, lead author and UT Medical School at Houston graduate student, said, "We discovered that d
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Contact: Robert Cahill
Robert.Cahill@uth.tmc.edu
713-500-3030
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Source:Eurekalert

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