HIV Weakened Through Antibody Treatments


The symptoms of HIV can be weakened through treatments, the process of which involves a patient being given a dose of synthetic antibodies. The antibodies are created specifically to prohibit the virus from affecting the cells in the human body. The trial thus far has yielded wondrous results. Patients that are given the antibody had an impressive reduction of the virus permeating their blood cells. The antibody targets the protein receptor that is necessary for HIV to affect said blood cells.

Prior trials lacked the success, despite being antibody treatments, as well. The most current clinical trial was the shining success story. Some of the patients have retained their improved health, even weeks after the initial antibody dosage.

The researchers behind the development of the synthetic antibody have faith that the way the antibodies target the proteins on the HIV’s exterior membrane will eventually lead them to an alternative treatment instead of utilizing anti-retroviral medicine. The researchers also hope that the clinical trial will help further designs for new therapeutic vaccinations.

Another idea that scientists have about the newly tested antibodies is that they could potentially be combined with established anti-retroviral medications. The mixture of the two could better fight and diminish the HIV infection, or even prohibit the onset of Aids in general.

Dr. Marina Caskey, with the Rockefeller University in New York, who was the leading writer behind the study being published in Nature, said that one single antibody or drug on their own will not suffice because the virus will come to gain a sort of immunity to those individual remedies. Dr. Caskey also noted that the antibodies the team administered was that they can combat 80 percent of the known HIV strains with their potency.

The patients involved in the clinical trial were given varied doses. Eight of the patients received higher doses than the others, and they were the ones who provided the astonishing results. The decrease of the virus in the blood was 300-fold. Half of those lucky eight also possessed levels of the viral load well beneath their starting amounts by the end of the trial.

Professor Vincent Piguet, while he was not a part of the study, said that the trial showed that antibodies may have a spot in the lineup of multiple treatments to fight against HIV. With him being Cardiff University’s director of the institute of infection and immunity, he would have keen interest in the results of the trial.

The name the antibody is christened with is 3BNC117. The original sample was sequestered in the very laboratory where the development of it was conducted. 3BNC117 is capable of, as proven by several clinical tests, effectively altering and diminishing 195 of the 237 viral strains of HIV, making it the single most neutralizing agent against HIV.

Dr. Caskey’s co-author, Dr. Florian Klein, said that the therapy mediated by 3BNC117 can activate and strengthen a patient’s white blood cells, improving immunity, while simultaneously helping to fight off the infection. Another member with Cardiff University, Dr. Andrew Freedman, said that by allowing 3BNC117 to help the body cope with HIV, and then administering anti-retroviral drugs, a treatment could be born where the onset of HIV can be prevented, without the need for a vaccine.

While there are no sure-fire treatments for erasing any signs of HIV, through the use of anti-retroviral medications and the newly synthetic antibody 3BNC117, which are both more than capable of weakening the virus’ strength, patients can manage the illness better than before. More advancements are sure to come as scientists work to improve and diversify treatment options.

By Matthew Austin Bowers

The Verge
The Independent

Photo by Todd Frantom – Flickr License

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