Microbicide thwarts AIDS virus in monkey test

Experimental medicines containing human-derived antibodies to HIV are partially effective in stopping transmission of the virus, according to tests in rhesus macaque monkeys. The new study, in the March Nature Medicine, suggests that such microbicides might help protect women who are exposed to the AIDS virus through infected sex partners.

Ronald S. Veazey of Tulane University Health Sciences Center in Covington, La., and his colleagues put the microbicidal antibodies into the vaginas of 12 monkeys and inert preparations into those of 13 others. Within 2 hours, the scientists delivered a virus that combines parts of HIV and simian immunodeficiency virus into each animal’s vagina. The team found that only 3 of 12 monkeys primed with the antibodies became infected whereas 12 of 13 monkeys getting inert gels did. Another monkey, which received the microbicide 6 hours before the virus, wasn’t protected.

The results support the idea that an engineered microbicide can stop infections, but scientists need to test more such compounds to find better candidates to try on people, say the researchers.


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