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New antibody suppresses HIV for 28 days after single dose

New antibody suppresses HIV for 28 days after single dose

A new lab-made antibody can suppress HIV for up to 28 days after only a single dose, researchers at the Rockefeller University in New York have found.

Their work was published in the journal Nature on 8 April and was the first time that a new generation of HIV antibodies had been tested in humans.

‘We conclude that, as a single agent, 3BNC117 is safe and effective in reducing HIV-1 viraemia, and that immunotherapy should be explored as a new modality for HIV-1 prevention, therapy and cure,’ wrote the study’s lead author, Michel Nussenzweig.

‘The goal is a once-a-year shot for prevention and a combination approach for cure,’ he added, much like cancer treatment.

The 3BN117 antibody shows activity against 195 out of 237 HIV strains and earlier work demonstrated that it can prevent or suppress infection in mouse and non-human primate models of HIV.

In the new study, 17 HIV-infected and 12 uninfected individuals were injected with a single dose of the antibody and monitored for 56 days.

At the highest dosage level, 30 milligrams per kilogram of weight, all eight infected individuals treated showed up to 300-fold decreases in the amount of virus measured in their blood. 

HIV antibodies previously tested in humans had disappointing results but 3BNC117 belongs to a new generation of broadly neutralizing antibodies.

‘What’s special about these antibodies is that they have activity against over 80% of HIV strains and they are extremely potent,’ said Marina Caskey, assistant professor of clinical investigation in the Nussenzweig lab and co-first author of the study.

Broadly neutralizing antibodies are produced naturally in some 10 to 30% of people with HIV – but only after several years of infection. By that time the virus has usually developed a resistance.

But by isolating and cloning these antibodies, researchers were able to harness them as therapeutic agents against HIV infections that have had less time to prepare.

‘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,’ said co-first author Florian Klein, also assistant professor of clinical investigation in the Nussenzweig laboratory.

Nussenzweig’s group has produced a second HIV antibody and hopes to test it alone and in combination with 3BNC117 this year.