The first human trial of a new type of HIV therapy suggests it could be a promising weapon in the fight against the virus. A report in the journal ‘Nature’ shows that infusions of so-called ‘broadly neutralising antibodies’ could suppress the amount of HIV in a patient’s blood.

The approach uses clones of immune proteins taken from a rare individual who has natural control of the disease. Scientists hope that, with further work, this approach could bolster current treatments.

People naturally mount a defence against the HIV virus by producing an army of protein based weapons – antibodies. But in most cases these are not powerful enough to defeat it. The international research team harvested copies of unusually potent ones, capable of neutralising many different strains of HIV. Patients given the highest concentrations were able to fight the virus for some time, dampening the replication of HIV in their blood.

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