Monday, April 13, 2015

New Antibody Treatment for HIV

A new drug incorporating monoclonal antibodies to fight HIV has shown preliminary promise.  The antibody, developed by a group of researchers at Rockefeller University in New York City, binds to HIV, rendering it unable to infect cells.  The antibody is known as 3BNC117, a special antibody produced by a minority of people with HIV (10-30%) that is particularly well-suited to fend off HIV.  In combination with other treatments, the 3BNC117 antibody could potentially confer additional resistance against HIV.

In the study, viral load of infected patients injected with high doses of the antibody significantly decreased for 28 days, with few adverse side effects.  Such research is promising because antibodies can offer long-lasting protection against HIV, with booster doses needed only every few months. One potential downside of this treatment is cost - the costs of these antibodies are higher than existing HIV treatments.  Still, having monoclonal antibodies against HIV as an option to supplement existing treatments may provide individuals with the best available care.  Moreover, for individuals who have developed resistance against antiretroviral drugs, the antibodies can be a second pass at warding off the progression to AIDS.

Finally, it is important to note that the study was only a Phase I treatment, meaning that the conclusions drawn are very preliminary due to the small sample size (12 people without HIV in the control, and 17 infected individuals).


--Andrew Duong

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