HIV antibodies block infection by reservoir-derived virus in laboratory study

August 26, 2014
Tae-Wook Chun, Ph.D., staff scientist in the NIAID Laboratory of Immunoregulation and first author of the study. Credit: NIAID

A laboratory study led by scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), lends further weight to the potential effectiveness of passive immunotherapy to suppress HIV in the absence of drug treatment. Passive immunotherapy for HIV is an experimental strategy that involves periodically administering broadly neutralizing HIV-specific antibodies (bNAbs) to control the virus. It would be advantageous to control HIV without antiretroviral drugs because of their cost, the potential for cumulative toxicities from lifelong therapy, and the difficulties some patients have adhering to drug regimens and tolerating certain drugs.

Although bNAbs have proven effective at blocking infection by various strains of HIV in the laboratory, their effect on HIV in humans, and particularly on the virus particles that hide in immune cells (called latent viral reservoirs), has been unknown.

In this study, NIH scientists obtained HIV from the latent reservoirs of 29 infected people in whom fully inhibited viral replication. In the laboratory, the researchers found that several bNAbs—particularly PGT121, VRC01 and VRC03 —effectively blocked HIV from entering the CD4+ T cells obtained from uninfected healthy donors. In addition, the scientists demonstrated in the laboratory that these antibodies could completely block HIV replication in CD4+ T cells obtained from infected individuals receiving antiretroviral therapy.

The researchers conclude that passive immunotherapy involving bNAbs individually or in combination may control HIV in the absence of antiretroviral therapy. A number of clinical trials are already underway or planned to test this hypothesis.

Explore further: Scientists boost potential of passive immunization against HIV

More information: T-W Chun, et al. Broadly neutralizing antibodies suppress HIV in the persistent viral reservoir. PNAS DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1414148111 (2014).

Related Stories

Research may be beating HIV, but a vaccine remains distant

July 11, 2014

Three decades since the onset of the infection in a global population, HIV care and treatment is looking very different. Given the difficulties involved, it is remarkable that having developed good treatments, the global ...

New research offers hope for HIV vaccine development

August 13, 2014

In a scientific discovery that has significant implications for HIV vaccine development, collaborators at the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Duke University School of Medicine have uncovered novel properties ...

Recommended for you

Children could point the way to new HIV treatments

September 29, 2016

Children with HIV who can resist the disease progressing could point the way to new treatments for HIV infection that are more widely applicable to infected adults and children alike, an international team of researchers ...

Broadly neutralizing HIV antibodies pave the way for vaccine

September 26, 2016

A small number of people infected with HIV produce antibodies with an amazing effect: Not only are the antibodies directed against the own virus strain, but also against different sub-types of HIV that circulate worldwide. ...

Targeting dormant HIV

September 19, 2016

Discovery of a novel, advanced technique to identify the rare cells where human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) hides in patients taking antiretroviral therapy (ART). This is an important step forward in the search for a HIV/AIDS ...

Training human antibodies to protect against HIV

September 8, 2016

During HIV infection, the virus mutates too rapidly for the immune system to combat, but some people produce antibodies that can recognize the virus even two years after infection. With an eye towards developing a vaccine, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.