Californian biotech company Osel told about the progress in the development of a new approach to AIDS, based on the use of natural protective properties of vaginal microflora. Researchers have succeeded in obtaining GM lactobacillus line secreting antibody fragments that are capable of neutralizing the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) at the stage of penetration into the body. The authors report bbout these AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses magazines.
Work on the genetic modification of Lactobacillus jensenii, typical representatives of the vaginal microflora, has been going on for more than 12 years. Earlier, the head of the research department of the company Osel, Laurel Lagenaur and his colleagues have reported receiving GM-lines capable of producing tsianovirin-N, antiviral protein. Bacteria have been successfully tested on monkeys, that shown reducing transmission of the virus by 63%. Now, however, the authors presented a new line of lactobacillus that produce antibodies in the mucous agaisnt viral protein GP120, which is more specific.
GP120 protein is one of the most important in the HIV shell: it binds to the CD4-receptors on the surface of T-lymphocytes and ensures their infection. This makes GP120 an attractive target for the action of drugs against HIV. In particular, it recognized by small artificially constructed single domain antibodies m9, m36 and m36.4, genes that scientists have introduced into the strain Lactobacillus jensenii-1153.
Most viruses enters a body through mucosal surfaces, and for women the mucous membranes of the vagina and cervix – is the most important gateway for HIV – explains Laurel Legenaur. Lactobacillus vaginal microflora already play a protective role, weakening the inflammatory processes that facilitate HIV entry. Genetic modification of these bacteria will provide antiviral antibodies in place of invasion.
Developers of the company Osel will implement these principles in MucoCept concept, which should be crowned with a wide medical use of GM lactobacillius which can prevent the penetration of HIV into a body. According to company management, for the moment the technology is still in its development stage, but in two years it will be brought to the stage of clinical trials.