A new treatment for AIDS?

English: Diagram of the HIV virus.

Diagram of the HIV virus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Deena Santoro (1 PM Micro) has submitted the last bonus summary of the semester. Via an article on Science Daily, here is Deena’s summary about a novel anti-HIV treatment strategy:

It has been roughly about 30 years since a positive HIV test would be considered a death sentence. Medical advances since the onset of HIV/AIDS have proven to show significant development of treatment for the virus and in so increasing the survival rate of HIV positive patients drastically. Unfortunately, there is yet to be a cure and so patients must undergo continuous HIV drug combination therapy including a “cocktail” of drugs in order to keep the virus under control. Only until recently, researchers at the Rockefeller University (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121210220916.htm) have found an extremely promising means of suppressing the virus without the need for a daily regimen of drug therapy. Researchers found that combining proteins from the human immune system can suppress the virus in experimental studies done on mice. This therapeutic treatment can implicate promising results in a better approach towards reduction of the virus in humans.

The proteins that were combined were a collection of five different antibodies which has been found to suppress the HIV-1 strain by its means of replication. In furthering of the study done by Florian Klein and colleagues in Michael Nussenzweig’s Laboratory of Molecular Immunology, treatment with this antibody combination therapy allowed the virus to be suppressed for a 60 day period even after the drug was terminated. In comparison to commonly used antiretroviral drug therapy treatments now, this antibody combination therapy has a drastically longer half-life which is evident in its longer lasting antiretroviral effects. Researchers have found that these 5 isolated antibodies are extremely potent and often referred to as “broadly-neutralizing” antibodies. Samples were taken from HIV positive patients who have shown to have an unusually high ability to suppress the virus compared to other subjects.

The HIV-1 strain is known to have a high mutation rate and the reason why this antibody combination has been shown to work so well is because all 5 of the antibodies target the HIV-1’s protein surface gp160. The reason why antibodies for HIV was written off as only a treatment for HIV/AIDS and has little effect on controlling the virus, but the combination of 5 antibodies, as has been shown, dramatically reduces the virus’s ability to adhere to host cells – and as we all know, attachment is the first part in the mechanism behind any infection and therefore disease.

As far as research is going for the utilization of this new potent antibody combination therapy, it can one day be used as a treatment in HIV positive patients. For the study, “humanized” mice were used to more closely relate the results of the drug therapy as to the hypothetical results for a human considering that a mouse doesn’t have the same receptors for the HIV-1 because it’s a human disease, rather. Hopefully, the positive results of controlling the virus in the “humanized” mice can assume the same for how a HIV positive patient will react to the antibody combination therapy.

This is a major breakthrough in terms of the advantages from the patient and clinical setting view considering daily drug therapy requires a great deal of time, patience, and money – all of which most people could do without having to spend.


About ycpmicro

My name is David Singleton, and I am an Associate Professor of Microbiology at York College of Pennsylvania. My main course is BIO230, a course taken by allied-health students at YCP. Views on this site are my own.

Posted on December 12, 2012, in Guest Post, Microbes in the News. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on A new treatment for AIDS?.

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