Antibodies may eliminate HIV-like virus after exposure

This discovery could help to transform HIV treatments and prevention in the future. | File photo

Scientists recently administered antibodies to infant macaques after they had exposure to a virus similar to HIV, with the antibodies effectively eliminating the infection.

The researchers at the Oregon National Primate Research Center exposed the monkeys to SHIV, which is a chimeric simian virus that contains the HIV envelope protein. Then they administered antibodies to the monkeys within 24 hours of the exposure. This is the first study that has demonstrated that administering antibodies within a single day of HIV exposure can eliminate the HIV-like virus.

This study, available in Nature Medicine, shows significant progress for the scientific community seeking to address HIV.

"We knew going into this study that HIV infection spreads very quickly in human infants during mother-to-child transmission," Dr. Nancy Haigwood, director and senior scientist of the Oregon National Primate Research Center at Oregon Health & Science University, said. "So we knew that we had to treat the infant rhesus macaques quickly but we were not convinced an antibody treatment could completely clear the virus after exposure. We were delighted to see this result."

This could help to transform HIV treatments and prevention in the future.

"Other nonhuman primate studies with antiretroviral therapy suggest that treatment as early as three days after infection is too late to prevent establishment of the HIV reservoir," Dr. Jonah Sacha, study co-author, said. "So using antibodies to clear the virus after infants have already been exposed could save thousands of lives."

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