HIV: Promising antibody tested

Antibody Therapy successfully suppresses infection in patients

Microscope image of a HIV-infected T cell © NIAID
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New hope for HIV patients: Researchers have tested another antibody against HIV - with promising results. Thus, the active ingredient in the body of those affected successfully blocked the multiplication of the dangerous pathogens. Unlike common antiviral drugs, it did not have to be given on a daily basis, but only weekly or even every two weeks. In addition, the drug appears to be associated with a low risk of resistance, the team reports.

Around 37 million people worldwide are infected with the AIDS pathogen - 90, 000 of them in Germany alone. A remedy for the deadly virus infection does not exist so far. But thanks to antiviral drugs, those affected today can lead a largely normal life. In addition, it is increasingly becoming apparent that antibodies could also effectively keep the HI viruses in check. For example, researchers have already succeeded in long-term inhibition of the pathogens in rhesus monkeys with such a therapy.

Other promising results are now being presented by scientists led by Chang Yi Wang from United Biopharma. They devoted themselves in their investigation the antibody UB-421. This drug blocks a protein in the human body that uses the HI virus to infect the T cells that are important for the immune system.

Successfully suppressed

How well this works, the research team tested in a phase 2 study with 29 HIV patients. 14 of these subjects received the antibody weekly for a period of eight weeks. The other 15 were treated every two weeks for a total of 16 weeks, but each received higher doses of infusion.

The result: Although the participants discontinued their antiviral drugs for the duration of the study, the viral load remained at a very low level. This means that the antibody successfully suppressed the proliferation of AIDS pathogens. In addition, there were no indications of a possible development of resistance, as the scientists report. This is explained by the fact that unlike many other antibodies, UB-421 does not directly attack the virus. display

Further studies are needed

Further studies will have to take a closer look at the potential of the antibody in the future: how effective is UB-421 in comparison to other treatment approaches, and how long can the effect of antibody therapy continue? If the benefit and safety of the remedy prove effective, it could be a significant relief for HIV patients.

On the one hand, the constant intake of antiviral drugs can be accompanied by side effects such as chronic inflammation. On the other hand, these remedies usually have to be taken on a daily basis and adhering strictly to this therapy regimen makes it difficult for many people affected. Researchers are therefore already working on combination pills, which must be taken less frequently. In the future, antibody therapy would also be enough to achieve a weekly or even less frequent treatment. (England Journal of Medicine, 2019; doi: 10.1056 / NEJMoa1802264)

Source: NIH / National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

- Daniel Albat