Novel antibody suppresses HIV in monkeys: Study
Washington: An experimental HIV antibody has successfully suppressed the deadly virus for six months without additional treatment, a trial in monkeys has found.
The therapy may have targeted the viral reservoir - populations of long-lived, latently infected cells that harbour the virus and that lead to resurgent viral replication when suppressive therapy is discontinued.
The findings may inform strategies that attempt to achieve sustained, drug-free viral remission in people living with HIV.
After receiving a course of antiretroviral therapy for their HIV-like infection, about half of a group of monkeys infused with a broadly neutralising antibody to HIV combined with an immune stimulatory compound suppressed the virus for six months without additional treatment.
"HIV excels at evading the immune system by hiding out in certain immune cells.
"The virus can be suppressed to very low levels with antiretroviral therapy, but quickly rebounds to high levels if a person stops taking medications as prescribed," said Anthony S Fauci, Director the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.
"The findings from this early stage research offer further evidence that achieving sustained viral remission without daily medication might be possible," Fauci said.
"This potential application is yet another example of how the research community is using powerful, broadly neutralising antibodies in multiple experimental applications to protect against and treat HIV," he said.
In the study, scientists from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) led by Dan Barouch, first infected 44 rhesus macaques with simian human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV), an HIV-like virus commonly used in nonhuman primate studies.
They then initiated daily antiretroviral therapy (ART) during acute infection to suppress the virus to below detectable levels in the monkey's blood.