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HIV Antibody Therapy

Delivering antibodies to HIV-infected people can lower levels of the virus, a study shows.

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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WIKIMEDIA, J ROBERTO TRUJILLOWhile some HIV researchers are looking for immunogens that will spur the immune system to create antibodies effective in neutralizing the virus, others are bypassing the immune system altogether by simply delivering the antibodies via infusion. In a study published today (April 8) in Nature, researchers report that this strategy, known as passive immunization, can successfully reduce the levels of the virus in HIV-infected people.

“This is an early study, but it’s a study with some impressive results,” Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Nature.

Researchers dosed 29 people in the United States and Germany with a single infusion of one of four doses of a broadly neutralizing HIV antibody called 3BNC117.Those receiving the highest dose experienced a dramatic reduction—between 8- and 250-fold—in blood levels of the virus for four weeks.

How long this reduced viral...

Stay tuned for The Scientist’s May issue, dedicated to HIV, which will include an in-depth look at antibody treatments and other developments toward a vaccine and potential cures.

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