Antibodies show progress against HIV

Proteins suppress disease in monkeys, but don’t cure it

Antibodies that latch onto viral proteins can suppress HIV-like disease in rhesus macaques for weeks or even months, researchers report October 30 in two studies in Nature. Such antibodies, patterned after ones made in rare people who are able to hold HIV infection in check, might someday benefit other patients chronically infected with HIV, say the research teams. The antibodies are broadly neutralizing, meaning they can hit diverse forms of the virus. That makes them more potent than antibodies identified in earlier studies.

The scientists used monkeys infected with a virus containing portions of the HIV and simian immunodeficiency viral genomes. The hybrid has the protein shell of HIV, which it uses to enter cells and cause disease.  A cocktail injection of multiple kinds of antibodies knocked down blood concentrations of the virus dramatically in the monkeys.
The virus later rebounded, but the finding is encouraging, say Louis Picker of Oregon Health & Science University in Beaverton and Steven Deeks of the University of California, San Francisco in an article accompanying the studies. The antibodies attack the virus differently than standard oral HIV drugs do, they note, which means a combination of the therapies might thwart the virus better than standard treatment does.

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