Antibody Treatment May Target Viral Reservoir
After receiving a course of antiretroviral therapy for their HIV-like infection, approximately half of a group of monkeys infused with a broadly neutralizing antibody to HIV combined with an immune stimulatory compound suppressed the virus for 6 months without additional treatment, according to scientists supported in part by NIAID.
The therapy may have targeted the viral reservoir—populations of long-lived, latently infected cells that harbor the virus and that lead to resurgent viral replication when suppressive therapy is discontinued.
The new findings may inform strategies that attempt to achieve sustained, drug-free viral remission in people living with HIV.
“HIV excels at evading the immune system by hiding out in certain immune cells,” said NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci. “The virus can be suppressed to very low levels with antiretroviral therapy, but quickly rebounds to high levels if a person stops taking medications as prescribed. The findings from this early-stage research offer further evidence that achieving sustained viral remission without daily medication might be possible. This potential application is yet another example of how the research community is using powerful, broadly neutralizing antibodies in multiple experimental applications to protect against and treat HIV.”
“Our findings suggest that the development of interventions to activate and eliminate a fraction of the viral reservoir might be possible,” said Dr. Dan Barouch, principal investigator of the study and director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “Although we are still a long way off from having a cure for HIV, our data suggest a strategy for targeting the viral reservoir that can be further explored.”