The race to find a potential drug for HIV started decades ago. Today, however, it seems that the pace has increased. Ongoing research digs up more and more information on the mechanics of the virus, potential weaknesses and, of course, varying antibodies.
Antibody VRC01 as a Potential Drug for HIV
Sorting through the growing amounts of data that studies are yielding is an ongoing process. Scientists have been able to pick out some leads that seem to hold the most promise. One of those is the antibody VRC01. There has been a lot of buzz around this particular antibody as it has potential to block the most-common HIV strands.
Testing has proven this antibody to be effective in nearly 90% of the viral strains of HIV known around the world. Its large scope makes it ideal for testing as a potential drug for HIV. Current prevention plans require volunteer patients to take oral doses on a daily basis in order for them to be effective. The goal with the studies being conducted is to develop treatments that last longer. It is hoped that this approach would prompt more people to be proactive related to prevention than those who currently do so.
The trials underway are multinational. Participants will receive injections every couple of weeks and be tested for HIV every four weeks. The study will be ongoing for the next several years. Those volunteering will be divided into groups. One group will be given a placebo while the others will receive various doses of the VRC01 antibody, based on their group. However, all volunteers will continue to receive information on prevention, including daily preventative drug therapies. Because different countries are involved, each volunteer will be directed to facilities that will be able to dispense the proper medication.
For countries where HIV infections are on the rise, this study will be of great benefit as volunteers will be educated and instructed about where to receive important services. This information will hopefully spread and have a positive effect on the situations that persist. The outcome of the trial is still several years off, but it holds promise of a potential drug for HIV, and more effective way to ward off infection.
Not all trials are conclusive or yield the results that scientists expect but everyday brings us closer to an HIV cure. Indeed, they still provide insight into matters not yet fully understood. That was certainly the case in a study recently conducted. The study took the results taken from two separate HIV vaccine trials and examined them together. The findings helped researchers determine what factors could lead to poorer patient outcomes on a clinical level. Both trial outcomes were compared to see how initial infection and viral characteristics could possibly be used to foresee the success of a patient’s treatment. While the study failed to be definitive, it has led scientists to look at matters in a different light.
The Results of the Study
HIV-1 on its own would establish, early on in the infection, its viral population. Once set, it generally remains constant. The patient is tested for viral load. Within a short time from the time of infection, this viral load can become relatively stable. This leads to a good prognosis for those pursuing treatment therapies. Outcomes begin to vary, however, as the viral population varies. When there is more than one viral variant, the colony becomes complex. This makes it unstable. Those who present with HIV infection but have multiple viral variants, usually have higher viral loads. It is easier for clinicians to predict a homogeneous population of the virus when compared to the alternative. These one-variant communities follow the step-by-step progression of the disease in a way that makes treatment more effective.
On the other hand, the unpredictability of variant viral populations can be tricky to treat. By comparing previous studies, it is hoped that what determines the variants, and how the host and virus interact in the initial phases of infection, will come to the fore. Being able to have a clearer picture of viral population workings and how it relates to the host’s response (especially during the early stages) could prove invaluable. Researchers expect that, upon learning the answers to these questions, a better strategy against the viral infection can be formulated, hopefully in vaccine form and later into an HIV cure.
A new study was conducted at Harvard University which shows that HIV patients who are receiving HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy) don’t get any more benefits from a high-dose multivitamin than they would from a regular dose. It is the first time that a study has been done on such a large scale to see the difference in results of HAART clinical trials when combined with different amounts of vitamin intake.
The Journal of the American Medical Association recorded the study in its October 17, 2012 issue. The reason for the test was to compare results with other studies that showed these high doses slowed disease progression in individuals not being treated with HAART. While HAART is a big step in treating HIV, it still does not completely repair the immune system, and takes a number of months before it becomes effective. Thus, researchers wanted to see if the vitamins could boost the results.
The study was conducted on a group of over 3,400 patients over the course of 2 years. Half of the patients received ultra high doses of vitamins such as B, C, and E, while the others received a regular dose.
There are several ways to measure HIV progression. Among these are BMI, CD4 count, hemoglobin level concentration, and plasma viral load. According to the study, the high dose vitamin takers experienced the same progression of the disease and mortality rate. In fact, there may be detrimental effects as ALT enzyme levels are raised which can possibly result in liver problems and other complications.
While high doses of vitamins are both safe and somewhat effective for HIV patients who are not being treated with HAART, the opposite seems to be true of those receiving this medical treatment. Primarily the test has proven to researchers that more studies must be done.
Micro nutrients help to maintain our body’s immune system and are thus being researched to help those with immune disorders like HIV/AIDS. Future studies will consider that perhaps in this case, less really is more.
Medical News Today reported this week that a recent study conducted by the UCLA AIDS Institute indicated an anti-HIV topical gel could be effective in substantially reducing the risk of infection in tissue exposed to HIV.
While this early clinical trial’s primary purpose was to test the safety of the drug—a topically applied gel containing a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor—the study’s lead author, Dr. Peter Anton, indicated that he was pleased that the study had indirectly pointed to the drug’s potential effectiveness in reducing the risk of HIV infection in real patients.