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Thursday 27th October 2016

HIV immune boost hope

11th December 2008

A new type of drug that could combat HIV has taken a step forward after successful tests in monkeys.


Scientists writing in the journal Nature say that infected animals survived almost twice as long after a single treatment to raise immune response to the virus.

Antiretroviral drugs have transformed the life expectancy of people with the infection, though scientists continue to work on new ways to keep HIV in check.

An independent expert said multiple doses were possible, and might eliminate the virus, though with current antiretroviral drugs having to be taken for life, HIV has the opportunity to build up resistance.

Tests on macaque monkeys infected with "simian immunodeficiency virus" (SIV) – an equivalent of HIV – have shown signs of success.

A blocking antibody was injected once into nine animals who had developed AIDS after SIV infection. All lived on average almost twice as long as other monkeys who did not receive the treatment.

Dr Rama Amara, who led the research, said: "It is important to note that this therapy was effective without antiretroviral drugs and in monkeys with severe AIDS.

"It is critical to induce protective immune responses targeting the mutated virus for developing a successful immune therapy to control HIV infection."

Immunologist Professor Thomas Lehner from King's College London said that the findings were very interesting and the drug showed potential for human treatment.

The International HIV/AIDS Alliance said that the research was "an important avenue" to pursue, particularly as it had managed to extend the lifespan of the monkeys.


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