Hong Kong University researcher Chen Zhiwei reports successful results in mouse models.
Scientists around the world have been searching for a cure for acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection for many years. Significant advances have been made, and current antiretrovirals medications significant improve the quality of life and extend the lifetimes of patients with the disease. There remain two key challenges, however, to developing a single treatment that can provide a complete cure. In addition to the existence of multiple subtypes of HIV-1, a pool of latent virus remains behind after treatment—and this has been impossible to eradicate to date.
Professor Chen Zhiwei and colleagues at Hong Kong University’s AIDS Institute claim to have found a potential “functional cure” for HIV/AIDS. In mouse models, they report that their bispecifc antibody BiIA-SG was shown to work against all subtypes of HIV-1, thus potentially providing a universal treatment. They also say that the antibody destroys all latent virus in the mouse models, making it a potential complete cure. The results were reported in the Journal of Clinical Investigation in April 2018.
The antibody is designed to protect CD4 positive cells, prevent virus penetration and have a long in vivo lifetime. The researchers suggest that with these properties, treatments could possibly be needed on only a quarterly basis, rather than daily, which is the case for current medications.
The researchers are currently working to get BiIA-SG into clinical trials, but expect it will be three to five years before a study can be initiated.