Researchers at Boston Medical Center (BMC) have discovered specific virus characteristic of HIV that can help predict the efficacy of HIV-1 antibody-based treatments such as antiretroviral therapy (ART).

Current HIV-1 therapies have been proven to be effective in slowing HIV progression in the body with minimal adverse events. Daily ART uses a combination of HIV-1 medicines; however, a proportion of patients diagnosed with HIV-1 cannot take ART for many reasons.

Led by Manish Sagar, MD, an infectious diseases physician at BMC, the trial identified HIV-1 virus characteristics to predict treatment efficacy with a specific antibody treatment using sequence-based methods. The identified virus characteristics can be used to determine if a patient is a good or poor candidate for specific antibody-based treatments in the future, reducing time and cost involved in treating the virus.

According the press release, antibody treatments bind the HIV-1 envelope protein that protects the virus and helps it avoid the immune system response. These envelope proteins also have extensive DNA sequence variation that provides information on the virus and whether a treatment would be effective or not.

It is difficult to predict if an antibody-based therapy will be effective based on knowing the envelope sequence alone, so sequence information is commonly obtained before patients are started on HIV-1 treatments to confirm that their virus will be susceptible to the prescribed therapies.

In the study, the researchers identified HIV-1 envelope sequence motifs that predict treatment efficacy with a certain type of antibody treatment.

According to the researchers, the findings will allow physicians to make better-informed decisions on treatment plans for patients with HIV-1, ultimately treating the virus to slow it down earlier.

“Making this process more efficient will only improve patient care, while reducing the time and money spent on finding the right treatment for these patients,” said Sagar.

  1. Registre L, Moreau Y, Ataca S, et. al. HIV-1 co-receptor usage and variable loop contact impacts V3 loop bnAb susceptibility. DOI: 10.1128/JVI.01604-19. Published November 6, 2019. Accessed November 7, 2019.