Body's Own Antibodies May Drive New Strains of HIV

Scientists in California have provided the first detailed look at how human antibodies, proteins critical for the body’s defense against invading pathogens, may actually drive human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to mutate and escape detection by the immune system. The findings, reported online March 18 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may be key in efforts to develop an effective AIDS vaccine.

New 'library' aids detection of antibodies

U.S. Department of Energy scientists and an MIT colleague have created a library of 1 billion human antibodies on the surface of yeast cells. The work will speed the search for new antibodies, proteins that are effective tools for recognizing specific molecules. It also promises to make the hunt less expensive. “Antibodies are assuming increasingly important roles in such diverse fields as sensors, proteomics, diagnostics, and therapeutics. We have captured a broad sample of the antibody diversity present in adult humans, and expressed it on the surface of yeast cells in a format suitable for quantitative screening,” said K. Dane Wittrup, J.R. Mares Professor of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering. The technology, reported in the February issue of Nature Biotechnology, “provides a robust and direct route to the isolation of useful antibodies” outside a living body, he continued. As a result, it could replace the need to produce antibodies within animals, such as mice. It also opens up new possibilities for rapidly designing medical treatments more acceptable to the human immune system.

New antibody library speeds search for new detection tools

Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have extracted part of the human immune system and reconstituted it in brewer’s yeast in a fashion that enables powerful machines to quickly identify new antibodies. The advance could have major repercussions for fundamental biological science as well as industries that use antibodies for sensors, biodetectors, diagnostic tools and therapeutic agents.

Growing Human Antibodies in Algae is Inexpensive, Fast

A group of scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have used algae to express an antibody that targets herpes virus, describing the work in an upcoming issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This antibody could potentially be an ingredient in an anti-herpes topical cream or other anti- herpes treatments, but more importantly the algae expression technology that the TSRI team used could facilitate production of any number of human antibodies and other proteins on a massive scale.