3BNC117 holds promise in suppressing HIV
According to a newest study in Nature, Rockefeller researchers found that a new HIV therapy using antibodies could have long acting effects and would reduce dose. The antibody termed 3BNC117 efficiently retarded the viral rebound in HIV-infected individuals who temporarily stopped taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) drugs. Marina Caskey noted that the findings were significant because the antibody delayed the virus rebound for a relatively long time.
After years of efforts, scientists have developed ART to fight HIV infection. ART is effective for improving immunity and reducing life-threatening complications in HIV infected people. For this reason, ART becomes a standard treatment for HIV. However, there is still no cure for HIV infection. Currently, patients have to take ART drugs every day, which may lead to adverse effects over time.
A few years ago, Johannes Scheid, author of this new study, isolated cells from an HIV-infected person whose immune system fought the virus well, and then developed the 3BNC117 antibody from these cells. HIV infects vital cells in human immune system, such as CD4+ T cells. 3BNC117 prevents some HIV strains from hijacking CD4+ T cells. ART medicines work by suppressing the replication of HIV. Unfortunately, HIV can remain dormant in CD4 cells and is able to come roaring back in everyone who stops taking the drugs.
The new study included 13 HIV-infected people who had been treated successfully with ART drugs. The researchers aimed to identify whether the 3BNC117 antibody alone can suppress HIV. They treated the patients with 3BNC117 alone. The results showed that the antibody delayed the virus rebound for nearly 10 weeks, longer than 3 weeks in the control group.
As is known, HIV can quickly mutate, making it hard to treat. The 3BNC117 antibody is capble of killing many different strains of HIV, although not all. HIV rebound happened very late in one third of the patients in this study. The antibody could be sufficient in suppressing the HIV strains that are sensitive to it, but less sufficient in suppressing other HIV strains.
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