A potential new HIV treatment of using antibodies has had a “surprising” impact according to two animal studies.
The journal Nature reports that the antibodies were able to wipe an engineered hybrid of human and monkey immunodeficiency viruses from the bloodstream of rhesus macaques within days.
The American scientists are now planning to test the treatment, which needs to be taken through an injection unlike current antiretrovirals, on humans.
Professor Dan Barouch, one of the authors, said: “The results were profound and surprising. It clearly calls for evaluation of these antibodies in clinical trials.”
Prof Barouch’s team injected the antibodies into the macaques who had been infected with the hybrid virus, known as SHIV.
Within a week of the treatment, which targets the virus in some tissues as well as in the bloodstream, the virus was undetectable and remained so for three months.
This study was confirmed in separate tests which used macaques who had been infected but had not yet developed symptoms.
In both tests, the viral levels of SHIV returned once treatment had been stopped, and the long-term effects were not tested as scientists were concerned they could trigger an immune response against the human antibodies.
But Prof Dan Barouch said these results were unprecedented: “It’s probably as large an antiviral therapeutic effect as has ever been seen.
“But we have to make sure we don’t overhype and the limitation is the study is in animals, not humans.”