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World AIDS Day 2022: Advancements In The Treatment Of HIV/AIDS

Multiple neutralizing antibodies for the treatment of HIV are being tested and developed by scientists at the NIAID Vaccine Research Center (VRC).

Written by Tavishi Dogra |Updated : December 1, 2022 8:35 PM IST

World AIDS Day 2022: HIV-negative people, on exposure or before an anticipated exposure, can take pre-exposure prophylaxis and post-exposure prophylaxis medicines, which are considered highly effective in preventing possible HIV transmission.

A lot of research work is ongoing, supported by major organisations across the globe, including NIAID-supported research on HIV treatment. They aim to develop long-acting therapies that, unlike currently available antiretrovirals, require daily dosing and could be taken weekly, once or once a month, or even less often. These long-acting therapies might be more accessible for many people to adhere to than the daily pills, resulting in more compliance, less toxicity, and cost-effectiveness. Consultant Infectious Diseases Dr Monalisa Sahu, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad, shares that the three significant agents under study and development phases are long-acting drugs, broadly neutralizing antibodies, and therapeutic vaccines.

Neutralizing Antibodies

Multiple neutralizing antibodies for the treatment of HIV are being tested and developed by scientists at the NIAID Vaccine Research Center (VRC). Neutralizing antibodies are good candidates for treatment since they are associated with few side effects in the body. In addition, their dosing could be very convenient, like every other month or even less often.

HIV-Infected Cell

These bNAbs can potentially thwart HIV by binding directly to the virus, further preventing it from entering a cell and thus accelerating its elimination. However, they can also bind to an HIV-infected cell, leading to the recruitment of immune-system components, thus facilitating cell killing.

  1. A therapeutic vaccine might be the best way to treat HIV infection. In addition, such an advanced approach could lead to sustained viral suppression.
  2. A better understanding of immune responses that sustainably suppress HIV and improve the potency of those responses is essential.
  3. Another potential method is to inject a specific mutation into the human genome by gene editing, making people immune to HIV infection.
  4. This genetic change creates an immune cell surface protein (CCR5) that differs structurally from the wild-type protein, making it impossible for the virus to attach to the changed protein and enter the immune cell to infect it.

The CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technique will make it much simpler to introduce these changes in the future.

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