In a recent breakthrough in the treatment of HIV, scientists developed an antibody that attacks an astounding 99 percent of HIV strains. The potential of this breakthrough could lead to effective treatment of HIV or prevention of it being transmitted. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus affects over 35 million worldwide and can lead to Autoimmune Disease (AIDS) a very severe stage of disease.
This antibody was tested on monkeys, who have shown successful results and human trials have could be scheduled to commence as early as 2018. The ability to apply the antibodies success in humans will be vital in the fight against HIV, a disease that has been notoriously difficult to treat due to its variation. The mutations and changes in its appearance overwhelms the body when it attempts to defend against this virus. The strains and the number of them is what defeats the immune system. The antibody has been engineered to attack three parts of the virus which makes it harder for the HIV to evade the antibody.
Fact File - HIV
How many suffer from it?
Around 35 million people worldwide. In 2013, more than 100,000 people in the UK were living with this condition.
What is it?
HIV is the Human Immunodeficiency Virus - it targets the immune system and weakens it by infecting it. It can lead to AIDS, which is the last stage of the diseases
Is there a cure?
There is no cure for HIV, but treatments can prevent AIDS being developed and allow the sufferer to live a healthy life.
How does it spread?
Most common way is via unprotected sex. It can also spread via contaminated needles, blood and breast milk.
These antibodies which have been dubbed as “super-antibodies” due to fact that three antibodies are combined to make a “tri-specific antibody”. These antibodies are able to attack HIV and kill large numbers of the strain. The experiments conducted on the monkeys, of the 24 injected with the tri-specific antibody, none of them developed an infection when later injected with HIV. The work carried out by Harvard Medical School, The Scripps Research Institute and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, gives a lot of hope for future clinical trials on humans.
Doctors in Africa are looking for clinical trials to be started as soon as possible due to the severe problems that HIV and AIDS have caused in Africa, a continent that is home to 19 million people with HIV, with just 56% aware of their condition. With 1.1 million dying in 2015, there is an urgency in dealing with HIV, that has somewhat been inspired by the results shown by these trials.