Certain Antibiotic Shots Kept HIV Infection at Bay in Monkeys

By Melisa Silver

HIV is one of those dreadful diseases for which no cure has yet been formulated, nor any method to halt its progression could be devised. Scientists are working out their genius minds since years to formulate any medicine that provides the above mentioned benefits. Even the attempt to protect one from HIV by creating vaccines against the virus is still under process.

However recently in an experiment, certain antibiotic that was injected into the monkeys appeared to protect them from HIV for a period of up to six months. Now if this experiment is really that successful, and a working hypothesis can be formulated in case of humans as well, the victory to be achieved in its result will surely be among the greatest ones till date.

Latest research claims that just a single shot of a powerful antibiotic containing injection appeared to protect the monkeys from an HIV simulating disease for six months straight.

The drug injected in the rodents was observed to protect these creatures from repeated attacks of a modified form of the HIV, however some of the antibodies appeared to protect the rodents for longer periods than others. This research has been performed by scientists from the U.S National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). These findings have been reported in the journal ‘Nature’ on 27th of April, and according to its study authors, it seems to be an innovative step towards creation of an HIV vaccine finally.

A vaccine that emerged in the year 2009 under the workings of a clinical study called ‘The trial’, little success was achieved as the drug was observed to control the transmission of AIDs via the spread of HIV to modest degrees only.

The idea behind creation of any vaccine is to provoke the body’s immune system to get working in producing antibodies against the invader, as indicated by the vice president of research for amfAR (a nonprofit that supports HIV/AIDS research), Rowena Johnston.

For example, introducing dead strains of typhoid through injection shots in infants is done so as to stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies against these strains. This leads to formation of passive immunity against that particular type of infection, so that in future, if the body is exposed to the disease producing organism, the immune system is capable of recognizing it and fighting against it.

However, the fact that still puzzles the study authors is that whether it is really possible to inject preformed HIV antibodies into the blood circulation of humans or not. In the past years, certain important antibodies have been isolated from the bodies of HIV infected patients which can certainly come in use in the near future. The three HIV fighting antibodies that have been discovered till this date are VRC01 and two others. VRC01 was tweaked genetically and a fourth such antibody was produced. In the study, it was observed that these four antibodies protected the monkeys from an infection that is produced by SHIV (it is a combination of simian form of HIV and HIV itself). Dubbed 10-1074, one of the four antibodies when transfused singly, kept the infection from occurring for a period of 23 days. It has also been discovered that if genetic alternations are produced in the antibody VRC01, a fighter cell with nearly doubled protective powers is created.

However, the whole of this research is limited to animals only, and loads of data and evidences are required to prove its efficacy in the case of humans. As Johnston says that, “This is not something that’s going to be available tomorrow, but this is a great step in the right direction.”

Truvada, which is a really expensive pill is used in people who are at a high risk of HIV infection. Antibody transfusions shall be pretty easier and less expensive.

With the advent of antiretroviral drugs in the developed part of the world, that efficiently aim at controlling the spread of HIV infection in the body, we must not forget that HIV/AIDS is still one of the leading cause of death on a worldwide basis, and soon a protective vaccine should be invented to overcome the expanding epidemics.

REFERENCE: Antibody shot protects monkeys from HIV-like infection