Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies May Reduce HIV Levels

Researchers achieve promising first step in new HIV treatment approach.

A trial conducted by a team at the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) showed an infusion of the VRC01 antibody may reduce the blood plasma level of HIV in patients.

Phase 1 of the study enrolled 23 patients, of which 15 patients suffered from HIV and were on antiretroviral therapy (ART). These patients were given 2 infusions of VRC01 28 days apart. Patients whose plasma levels of HIV were already reduced from ART showed no decrease from the infusions.

The other 8 patients who were not on ART were given only 1 infusion. Researchers found that 6 of 8 patients who did not receive ART experienced a reduction in plasma HIV levels more than 10 times after the VRC01 infusion.

Two patients in the group with the lowest levels of HIV found that for about 3 weeks, the virus was suppressed to low levels, but only if the VRC01 antibody was present.

The 4 patients with HIV plasma levels that decreased substantially were not able to reach undetectable levels. The quantity of HIV in the blood cells was not affected from the infusion in any of the patients in the study.

"This is a very promising first step for an HIV treatment approach using broadly neutralizing antibodies, and the first good news for some time for people infected with HIV," said Janardan Pandey, PhD, an immunogeneticist who helped monitor the phase 1 trial.