HIV patients can cheer up, as an effective suppression of the HIV virus from a combination of three antibodies in the treatment is in sight.
This was according to a new study by researchers at the Rockefeller University, revealing that the virus eventually runs out of options and dies if the method of three antibodies is tried.
The HIV virus has a notorious ability to mutate and is hard to eliminate. Once the virus enters a body, it will remain infected forever and block immune therapies trying to neutralize it.
The findings were reported in Science Translational Medicine.
Antiretroviral drug treatment has been an indispensable part for HIV-infected people in saving them from full-blown AIDS. Without it, the body will lose the power to control the virus.
Failure rate in some HIV treatments including ART is also high because the virus mutates and escapes the immune system. However, the new treatment method promises to trap the virus and end its cat-and-mouse game.
In the experiments, a combination of three antibodies was administered to HIV-infected mice, and it gave results of complete suppression of the virus.
Failure of the immune system follows HIV infection. However, some infected patients, known as elite controllers, have the capacity to defeat the virus by neutralizing antibodies.
The research was conducted at the laboratory of Michel C. Nussenzweig, who is Zanvil A. Cohn and Ralph M. Steinman professor at The Rockefeller University and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Immunology.
Three antibodies — BG18, NC37, and BG1 — were administered to HIV-infected mice. The antibodies get attached to an epitope, which is a part of the virus, and supports each other in shutting down HIV.
"Some people with HIV produce these antibodies, but most of the time the virus eventually escapes them through mutations in the antibody's corresponding epitope," said Natalia Freund first author of the study.
Freund compared the relationship between the antibodies and the virus to an arms race. Mutation helps some of the virus escape the antibodies and evolve.
The plank of the research was in showing that an elite controller's immune system can defeat the HIV virus by using neutralizing antibodies that produce immune cells — cytotoxic T cells — in destroying infected cells and immobilize the virus.
"What we've shown in this study is that after several rounds of escape from these particular antibodies, the virus seems to run out of options," she added.
The patient whose blood serum was used by researchers to create the antibodies contracted HIV infection 30 years ago.
Blocking Of Type 1 Interferon
Meanwhile, another viable method to block type 1 interferon using antiretroviral therapy to boost immune function has been proven successful. This enhances viral suppression against HIV, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
The study demonstrated the role of type 1 interferon in destroying the body's immunity during HIV infection.
"This findings is completely counterintuitive, because many believe that the more interferon at work, the better," said investigator Scott Kitchen.
He said the type of interferon produced during chronic HIV infection is harmful to the body's ability to fight off HIV and other infections and accelerate the HIV disease.
By blocking type 1 interferon, reduced chronic activation of the immune cells was possible and let the weakened CD8 T cells restore the fighting abilities and strength.
The HIV-infected mice were treated with antibodies that blocked type 1 interferons to restore immune power. It revived the immune system and activated sufficient CD8 T cells to attack HIV-infected cells. Combining it with ART showed the treatment accelerated the impact of ART in suppressing HIV.