OHSU study: HIV antibody treatment eliminates virus in baby monk - KPTV - FOX 12

OHSU study: HIV antibody treatment eliminates virus in baby monkeys

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File photo (Source: KPTV) File photo (Source: KPTV)
File photo (Source: KPTV) File photo (Source: KPTV)

Scientists at Oregon Health & Science University say they were able to completely eradicate an HIV-like virus in baby monkeys that were treated within 24 hours of exposure.

The treatment involved using human HIV antibodies to treat baby rhesus macaques that were exposed to the SHIV virus orally, as might happen during breastfeeding. SHIV is a simian virus that has the same envelope protein as HIV.

Within a day of exposure, scientists at the Oregon National Primate Research Center at OHSU were able to detect SHIV in multiple body tissues in the macaques. By the 14th day after treatment, however, the virus had completely cleared from the monkeys' bodies.

The study's authors said that 100 percent of the macaques were virus-free for at least six months after treatment.

The study's lead author, Nancy L. Haigwood, Ph.D, who is also the director and senior scientist at the Oregon National Primate Research Center, said the results were better than they expected.

“We knew going into this study that HIV infection spreads very quickly in human infants during mother-to-child transmission," Haigwood said, "So we knew that we had to treat the infant rhesus macaques quickly but we were not convinced an antibody treatment could completely clear the virus after exposure. We were delighted to see this result.”

The results mean antibody treatment could eventually be used as an alternative to current treatments like antiretroviral therapy, which has been shown to reduce the risk of transmitting HIV from mother to baby when taken regularly. HIV is most commonly transmitted during childbirth or breastfeeding and antiretroviral therapy is typically recommended in the last month of gestation, for several days after delivery, and while breastfeeding.

Further testing will be needed to see if the results of the antibody treatment study can be replicated in humans and that research has already begun.

Clinical trials of antibody treatment in HIV-exposed babies is now underway in the United States and South Africa.

Read more about the study in the journal Nature Medicine.

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