Scientists have been able to isolate powerful HIV antibodies, which are classified as immune system-protecting proteins which are targeted against the virus. This means that it could be possible in the near future to prevent and even destroy HIV before its devastating effects take hold on a patient.
The trial is entitled Antibody Mediated Prevention or AMP HIV Prevention Study. The study looks at something called passive immunity. Vaccine controversy aside, with this medical intervention the body is injected with the virus, which is essentially supposed to spur a reaction of antibodies and trains them to act when they come in contact with the virus in the future.
With this study, instead of waiting for the body to create antibodies, those in the study will simply be giving antibodies directly to participants to see if they will then destroy the virus on their own.
The antibodies are cultivated from a small group of HIV patients whose body produces them naturally. Because of this, despite being HIV positive, the patients have not needed to take antiretroviral drugs (the classification of medication that suppresses HIV) like most HIV patients in order to survive and stop it from becoming full blown AIDS.
Within the study, 13 patients who have been on antiretroviral drugs for quite some time will be injected with the antibodies to see if they can destroy or suppress the virus.
“In traditional vaccine studies, we give people a vaccine and wait to see if their bodies will make antibodies against HIV in response. In this study, we’ll be skipping that step, and just giving people the antibodies directly. We will do this through an infusion, which some people know better as getting an IV or getting a drip. This is the first study testing whether this antibody can prevent HIV infections in people.”
Doctors acknowledge this as particularly exciting because not only does it open the door for a possible treatment for HIV/AIDS, but also may demonstrate that antibodies can kill viruses.
Those participating in the study do not think the antibodies have any side effects, as they are culled from other human beings.
A similar study will soon take place in Africa to see if the antibodies can protect vulnerable women from becoming infected with HIV.