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AIDS antibodies fight infection in monkeys

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Lab tests for monkey AIDS

The results of a new study have shown that AIDS antibodies from humans have been able to strongly suppress the virus in monkeys. This new research may be able to one day alter treatments given to people who tested positive for HIV or AIDS in STD testing.

Antibodies fighting AIDS
The new research from Harvard Medical School found that human antibodies reduced the presence of the simian strain of HIV to nearly undetectable levels within a week. In some cases, the antibodies reduced the AIDS virus to such small levels in as little as three days. The effects for this treatment lasted several months in some cases, while three of the test subjects have yet to experience a resurgence of the virus. In most of the cases, the virus returned after the effect of the antibodies waned.

"The antibodies themselves are very, very special. These antibodies should be explored for a variety of different clinical applications. Clearly where there's going to be substantial interest is evaluating their potential role in cure," said lead author Dan Barouch, Ph.D., professor of medicine and director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Elite controllers
While the three animals that did not experience a relapse of the virus are not cured, they may have developed the traits of a group of people who test positive for AIDS in STD tests yet do not need any medication to fight the disease, known as elite controllers. According to the AIDS Research Institute, elite controllers make up only 5 to 15 percent of the population of people with HIV.

While untreated HIV will normally progress to AIDS, elite controllers often do not need medication to keep the infection at bay. These patients do not experience significant loss of CD4+ T immune cells, something that generally happens in HIV and AIDS patients. Only blood testing and other methods can reveal whether an elite controller has AIDS.

This new study was able to turn regular AIDS-positive monkeys into elite controllers with the use of antibodies. While there is still a significant amount of research needed before this practice could be used in humans, it may give hope to those who have been diagnosed with AIDS or HIV through a lab test online.

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