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PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
26-Aug-2014

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Contact: Laura S. Leifman
laura.sivitz@nih.gov
301-402-1663
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
@NIAIDNews

HIV antibodies block infection by reservoir-derived virus in laboratory study

NIH-led team finds strategy to achieve sustained HIV remission promising

IMAGE: This is Tae-Wook Chun, Ph.D., staff scientist in the NIAID Laboratory of Immunoregulation and first author of the study.

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WHAT:

A laboratory study led by scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), lends further weight to the potential effectiveness of passive immunotherapy to suppress HIV in the absence of drug treatment. Passive immunotherapy for HIV is an experimental strategy that involves periodically administering broadly neutralizing HIV-specific antibodies (bNAbs) to control the virus. It would be advantageous to control HIV without antiretroviral drugs because of their cost, the potential for cumulative toxicities from lifelong therapy, and the difficulties some patients have adhering to drug regimens and tolerating certain drugs.

Although bNAbs have proven effective at blocking infection by various strains of HIV in the laboratory, their effect on HIV in humans, and particularly on the virus particles that hide in immune cells (called latent viral reservoirs), has been unknown.

In this study, NIH scientists obtained HIV from the latent reservoirs of 29 infected people in whom antiretroviral therapy fully inhibited viral replication. In the laboratory, the researchers found that several bNAbs--particularly PGT121, VRC01 and VRC03 --effectively blocked HIV from entering the CD4+ T cells obtained from uninfected healthy donors. In addition, the scientists demonstrated in the laboratory that these antibodies could completely block HIV replication in CD4+ T cells obtained from infected individuals receiving antiretroviral therapy.

The researchers conclude that passive immunotherapy involving bNAbs individually or in combination may control HIV in the absence of antiretroviral therapy. A number of clinical trials are already underway or planned to test this hypothesis.

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ARTICLE:

T-W Chun, et al. Broadly neutralizing antibodies suppress HIV in the persistent viral reservoir. PNAS DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1414148111 (2014).

WHO:

NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., and Tae-Wook Chun, Ph.D., staff scientist in the NIAID Laboratory of Immunoregulation, are available for comment.

CONTACT:

To schedule interviews, please contact Laura S. Leifman, (301) 402-1663, laura.sivitz@nih.gov.

NIAID conducts and supports research--at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide--to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID Web site at http://www.niaid.nih.gov.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov/.

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