Washington: A team of researchers are developing an antibody-based drug that may provide a better strategy for long-term control of HIV.
“This study provides evidence that a single dose of an antibody stimulates patients’ immune response, enabling them to make new or better antibodies against the virus,” explains one of the study’s first authors Till Schoofs.
“We reported last year that this treatment can greatly reduce the amount of virus that’s present in someone’s blood,” Dr. Schoofs adds, “but we wanted to follow the patients for a longer period of time to study how their immune systems were adapting to the new therapy.”
The molecule used in the research, 3BNC117, is called a broadly neutralizing antibody because it has the ability to fight a wide range of HIV strains.
The clinical trial included 15 patients who had high levels of the virus in their blood, and 12 other patients whose virus levels were being controlled with antiretroviral therapy (ART). The majority of trial participants were treated at The Rockefeller University Hospital. The patients were infused with a single dose of 3BNC117 and were monitored over a six-month period.
The investigators from The Rockefeller University, along with collaborators from the University of Cologne, found that 14 out of 15 patients who had high levels of the virus at the time they were given the antibody were making new antibodies that were able to neutralize a number of different strains of HIV.
“It usually takes several years for the body to begin to make good antibodies against HIV,” Schoofs says. “So there might be an even better effect later on, especially if patients are given more than one dose of 3BNC117.”
The next steps in this research are to test 3BNC117 in combination with other antibodies that target HIV, to determine whether an even stronger antiviral effect can be found. The researchers are also conducting a Phase 2 trial in which patients receiving ART are switched to antibody treatment.