Works of art. But researchers are looking for a cure for HIV.

The results of a small study published in Nature Medicine show that early treatment with a monoclonal antibody could be part of a strategy to eliminate an HIV infection.

The standard treatment for HIV is antiretroviral therapy (ART). Although there are many good combinations of ART to choose from, ART does not cure HIV and therefore treatment must be followed for the rest of a person’s life to prevent progression. disease to AIDS) and transmission of the virus to others.

Ole Schmeltz SogaardMD, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark is among researchers looking for an alternative: a cure for HIV, which he says would most likely involve a combination of treatments. .

Søgaard was one of the researchers involved in a study who tested various combinations of treatments.

“Many clinical trials have tested HIV cure strategies, but most of these trials have had no impact on the number of infected cells (known as the HIV reservoir) or the ability of the immune system to control the virus,” Søgaard said.

“In our study,” he continued, “we tried to intervene just as people newly diagnosed with HIV were starting ART.”

He explains that this approach is different from previous studies, which have tested interventions with people living with HIV on ART for many years.

The study volunteers were 50 men and 5 women newly diagnosed with HIV infection living in Denmark and the UK. Søgaard and colleagues randomized them to receive one of four treatments: standard ART; Romidespin, a histone deacetylase inhibitor which is used to treat T-cell lymphoma and ART; 3BNC117, a monoclonal antibody against HIV, and ART; romidespin, 3BNC117 and ART.

“In our randomized trial, we found that people who received strong monoclonal antibodies against the HIV surface in addition to standard ART had a more rapid decrease in the amount of virus in plasma and infected cells as well as a response stronger cell-mediated immune system against the virus compared to those who only received ARVs,” says Søgaard. “Additionally, when study participants stopped ART during a closely monitored treatment interruption, the proportion of individuals able to partially or completely control the virus was much higher among those who had susceptible virus and received the monoclonal antibodies, than the rest of the study participants.

Søgaard noted that research has shown that the immune system and CD8 T cells in particular are able to suppress HIV replication for many years without ART. Treatment with 3BNC117, the monoclonal anti-HIV antibody, could be a way to reduce the amount of virus beyond what can be achieved with the current standard of care for HIV. Additionally, this antibody may also improve the ability of the immune system to control the virus once ART is stopped.

Søgaard and colleagues reported their results in natural medicine last month.

“This is hopefully a step in the right direction, but much more work and improvement in treatment strategy is needed before we can ever have a safe and scalable treatment for HIV,” says Søgaard. “In this study, we focused on people newly diagnosed with HIV, but a high priority for future research should be to test similar treatment strategies in those who have already been on ART for years.”

Christopher S. Washington