Llama antibody fragments have good potential for application as HIV-1 topical microbicides

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There is an urgent global need for preventative strategies against HIV-1 infections. Llama heavy-chain antibody fragments (VHH) are a class of molecules recently described as potent cross-clade HIV-1 entry inhibitors. We studied the potential of a VHH-based microbicide in an application-oriented fashion. We show that VHH can be inexpensively produced in high amounts in the GRAS organism S. cerevisiae, resulting in very pure, and endotoxin free product. VHH are very stable under conditions they might encounter during transport, storage or use by women. We developed active formulations of VHH in aqueous gel and compressed and lyophilized tablets for controlled release from an intra vaginal device. The release profile of the VHH from e.g. a vaginal ring suggests sufficient bioavailability and protective concentration of the molecule at the mucosal site at the moment of the infection. The ex vivo penetration kinetics through human tissues show that the VHH diffuse into the mucosal layer and open the possibility to create a second defense layer either by blocking the HIV receptor binding sites or by blocking the receptors of immune cells in the mucosa. In conclusion, our data show that VHH have
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198–205
JournalAIDS Research and Human retroviruses
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011

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