In an attempt to move beyond the current standard of HIV cure, researchers have coupled an antibody with standard-of-care antiretroviral treatment (ART), finding that the duo kept virus levels very low - almost undetectable - in nonhuman primates.
The new combination therapy could prove to be a successful therapeutic strategy for the long-term control of HIV infection. For many individuals who receive an HIV-1 positive diagnosis, ART is a routinely used approach to keep the virus at bay and minimize disease progression.
‘Dual therapy may offer an adjunct option that controls viremia and reverses immune system damage without the need for lifelong therapy.’
However, maintaining the drug regimen for extended periods is costly and often associated with HIV persistence, as well as adverse health outcomes.
Seeking a new method to potentially lessen patient dependence on ART, Siddappa Byrareddy et al. administered a short course of ART combined with either antibodies targeting α4 β7 (an integrin protein involved in directing gut-based immune responses) or a control to simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-infected rhesus macaques. This process was followed by ART withdrawal.
In ART-only treated animals, viral loads rapidly rebounded and CD4+ T cells dipped after ART removal. In animals also given α4 β7-specific antibodies, by contrast, virus levels remained undetectable and CD4+ T cell levels returned to normal - effects that were sustained for more than nine months after all anti-viral agents were stopped.
These findings suggest the dual therapy may offer an adjunct option that controls viremia and reverses immune system damage without the need for lifelong therapy, the authors say.