May 6, 2016
This week, we learn about some promising study results showing single antibody infusions prevented simian human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) infection in monkeys for up to 23 weeks. Meanwhile, another study shows that HIV infections and the overall transmission rate have dropped in the U.S., but still lag behind national targets. To beat HIV, you have to follow the science!
Administering just one antibody infusion was found to protect monkeys against SHIV for up to 23 weeks, according to a study published in Nature.
The antibody infusions delayed SHIV infection for all three groups, with 23 weeks being the longest duration of protection. This duration depended on the antibody's potency and half-life, or how long it could last in the blood and tissues, the researchers found.
Additionally, the researchers modified the VRC01 with an extended half-life to increase the average duration of protection from eight weeks with the original VRC01 antibody to 14.5 weeks.
"If administered to populations at high risk of HIV-1 transmission, such an immunoprophylaxis regimen could have a major impact on virus transmission," the researchers concluded.
The first of two planned human trials testing the VCR01 antibody as HIV prevention began enrolling last month.
From 2010 to 2015, new HIV infections in the U.S. decreased by 11.1%, while the overall HIV transmission rate decreased 17.4%, but both numbers remain behind goals set by the 2010 US National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS), according to a study published in AIDS and Behavior.
"The good news is that we appear to have made important strides in the prevention of HIV and the reduction of HIV transmission rates in the United States; unfortunately, these key gains only got us roughly halfway to the 2015 goal line," said senior author David Holtgrave, Ph.D., according to the study press release.
Specifically, new annual HIV infections dropped from 37,366 to 33,218, while the transmission rate dropped from 3.16 to 2.61 annually. Although seeing an overall decrease shows progress, the authors noted, it fell short of the 2010 NHAS key targets of reducing HIV incidence by 25% and HIV transmission rate by 30% before the end of 2015.
While Holtgrave acknowledges that government funding is limited, he urged increased focus on communities most affected by HIV -- particularly men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender individuals, young people, African Americans and Latinos, and people who live in the South, according to the study press release.
Warren Tong is the senior science editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
Follow Warren on Twitter: @WarrenAtTheBody.
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