Scientists in the United States have genetically modified two antibodies to protect monkeys from a virus similar to HIV, according to a study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The research, developed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), experimented on rhesus macaques with two “potent” broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs), the “3BNC117-LS” and the “10-1074-LS”, hoping to find a way to an HIV vaccine.
After inducing genetic mutations into both “bNAbs”, the experts prepared solutions to inject them intravenously into different groups of primates.
After the injections were made, the researchers found that each of the solutions prepared with genetically modified “bNAbs” offered a protection of up to 37 weeks to a SHIV agent, a mixture between HIV, which attacks humans, and SIV, which is the virus similar to HIV which attacks primates.
On the other hand, unaltered bNAbs the protection only lasted, on average, about three weeks, the study indicates.
Genetically modified bNAbs, which proved effective in protecting against HIV and a virus similar to HIV, may open the road to a better HIV drug
With these results, highlighted in the note, it was shown that the genetic mutations introduced in the aforementioned antibodies increased their durability after being injected, which extended the period of protection, increasing hopes for an HIV vaccine.
The mutations, the specialists say, did not affect the way in which “bNAbs” are coupled to the virus, although the researchers managed to prolong their activity after administration.
In theory, they say, this capacity for resistance could lengthen the periods between visits that would be made to the clinic to receive this treatment, “if it is shown to be safe and effective in humans.”
“This approach joins other candidate drugs and biomedical technologies that aim to offer long-term protection against HIV, in the absence of an HIV vaccine,” the experts said in the statement.
Given the “success” of modified bNAbs in protecting against SHIV (HIV combined with SIV, the virus similar to HIV, which affects primates) in monkeys, scientists have already started the second phase of trials, using another antibody, hoping that soon will test the full therapy in humans, in the desire to obtain a reliable HIV vaccine.