Thursday , 13 December 2018

HIV breakthrough: New treatment and possible vaccine

HIV-1 budding (in green) from cultured lymphocyte
HIV-1 budding (in green) from cultured lymphocyte

An initial groundbreaking research shows a promising new antibody treatment reduces 300-fold HIV in positive people’s bloody system.

The newly created antibody by a team of top US and German scientists suppressed HIV in the blood without any harmful side effects for up to a month, revealed a new study published in the journal Nature.

The antibody, named 3BNC117, was cloned by the researchers from a powerful natural antibody produced by about 1 percent of humans infected with HIV.

“What’s special about these antibodies is that they have activity against over 80 percent of HIV strains and they are extremely potent,” said Dr. Marina Caskey of the Rockefeller University in New York, who led the study.

3BNC117 was administered as a shot in doses ranging from 1 to 30 milligrams per kilogram of body weight to 29 volunteers, 17 HIV positive and 12 negative.

The individuals were monitored for 56 days and in eight who were given the highest dose showed a significant decrease in the amount of HIV in their blood, up to 300-fold.

Their viral load was lowest after about a week, and reduced for four weeks. However four others unfortunately developed a resistance to the antibody.

The lead author, Michel Nussenzweig, said that the “goal is a once-a-year shot for prevention and a combination approach for cure.”

“What’s special about these antibodies is that they have activity against over 80% of HIV strains and they are extremely potent,”said Caskey.

Florian Klein, immunologist at Rockefeller University in New York and one of the authors of the study, said the results are promising and that in “contrast to conventional antiretroviral therapy, antibody-mediated therapy can also engage the patient’s immune cells, which can help to better neutralize the virus.”

However he cautioned that 3BNC117 is “not ready to go on the market or anything.”

Caskey said that the next step is to test whether 3BNC117 can help patients during a pause in antiretroviral therapy and examine how it combines in treatment with antiretrovirals.

Further studies of whether 3BNC117 could be used preventively are also under consideration.

The researchers also said that this could offer an alternative treatment to the anti-retroviral drugs currently used.

They also expressed hope that this breakthrough will result in new therapeutic vaccines.

About Dan Littauer

Dan Littauer is a journalist who specializes in LGBTI current affairs, travel writing, feature writing and investigative journalism. He is a correspondent for LGBTQ Nation, ManAboutWorld, and previously worked for Gay Star News, PinkNews, San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, Gay Middle East, Lonely Planet as well as contributing occasionally to the BBC, Al-Jazeera, CNN and The Guardian. He also had an extensive career outside journalism, which included teaching psychoanalysis and social science, and consultancy work for the travel market. When he is not busy writing, he can be spotted rambling around the stunning Scottish landscape, where he lives, spending time at home with his cat.

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