Anti-HIV antibody shows promise in first human trial

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New York, April 9 (IANS) A new anti-HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) antibody has been found safe and controlling HIV levels for about a month in early human trail, says a study.

Use of antibodies, which are part of the immune system that helps fight infections, is called immunotherapy.

The new findings suggest that immunotherapy or boosting the body’s natural defense system could soon be a part of HIV treatment strategies to control, prevent and cure the disease.

The researchers found that a single infusion of the experimental anti-HIV antibody called 3BNC117 resulted in significantly decreased HIV levels that persisted for as long as 28 days in HIV-infected individuals.

“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,” said corresponding author Michel Nussenzweig from Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Rockefeller University, New York.

Before its first-in-human testing, the 3BNC117 antibody had neutralised many diverse HIV strains in laboratory tests and had protected mice and macaques from HIV and its simian equivalent.

To determine if the investigational product would be safe and potentially effective in people, the research team conducted a small clinical trial among 29 volunteers, 17 HIV-infected and 12 uninfected individuals.

Study participants received a single intravenous dose of 3BNC117 of one, three, 10 or 30 milligrams.

The investigational product was well-tolerated by all participants. Among HIV-infected participants, 3BNC117 had the greatest effect on the eight participants who received the highest dose, resulting in significant and rapid decreases in viral load.

HIV resistance to 3BNC117 was variable, but some individuals remained sensitive to the antibody for 28 days.

The investigational antibody may be used to help eradicate HIV from latent reservoirs in an infected person’s body, the authors pointed out.

The study was published in the journal Nature.

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