A Possible New HIV Treatment Discovered
A few days back a huge group of researchers published their latest findings in the “Science Translational Medicine”, covering a topic that might serve as a potential treatment for the HIV virus. At present this information can’t be served to cure HIV/AIDS but it is very much possible to use it in order to discover a treatment for this deadly disease that might actually eradicate it from this planet.
The research emphasizes on the infusion of a specific antibody altered and designed in such a way that it fight backs a wide and broad array of HIV strains at the same time. This technique being discussed here is popularly known as passive immunization in short.
This technique was tested on 23 patients first for a startup trial. From this trial the researchers found out that the antibody – VRC01 worked as expected and was able to lower the levels of HIV virus in a patient suffering from chronic HIV. At the end it was concluded by the researchers that “Passive immunization with neutralizing antibodies could therefore aid in viral suppression in HIV-infected individuals“.
VRC01 was first considered for basic clinical development back in 2010. This specific antibody belongs to the “broadly neutralizing antibodies” class. The antibodies lying in this class usually are able to fight only a single pathogen however VRC01 is able to fight multiple infectious versions of the same pathogen at the same time which makes it a superior antibody in its class.
The trial for this research was funded by the National Institutes Of Health (NIH). The Phase-1 of this trial was mostly intended to make sure that the use of this technique was completely safe. The infusions were given to a total of 23 patients for trial as mentioned above out of which 15 were on ART therapy and 8 were not on ART therapy. The patients who were on ART treatment as well were given 2 doses of this treatment and the other group was given a single dose to observer the results.
The results and observations of this treatment were a lot surprising and wonderful. The patients who were on ART treatment as well apart from this particular therapy benefited a lot from this therapy. There were no identifiable HIV virus traces left in these patients. In the other group 6 of the 8 patients showed an enormous drop in the HIV levels present in their blood. From these 6 volunteers 2 of them showed highly significant results.
VRC01 was able to suppress the HIV virus present in their body to an almost undetectable level for well over 3 weeks before the antibody wore off. The remaining 2 patients in this group showed very less to no results probably because the HIV virus in their body already developed to such a high level that enabled it to resist the VRC01.
Although the results of VRC01 were tremendously amazing but just like with any other treatment there were certain backdraws. Firstly, though VRC01 got the potential ability to serve as a cure for the HIV virus but it is difficult to consider it as a permanent functional cure as a dose of it lasts only for a few weeks at the best. Secondly, this therapy is pretty costly as each dose session costs in thousands of dollars so it is not affordable by all. Lastly, as mentioned above some strains of HIV in some patients got the potential to resist VRC01 so it may not work in each and every case.
Keeping this in mind, researchers believe that VRC01 will probably be used as a viral suppression in combination with the available and to be discovered treatments and therapies in the future. Yet, VRC01 has served as an amazing breakthrough in this field and with further work on this research, researchers might be able to discover a possible cure for HIV in the near future.