According to a small study reported by the NIH, antibody infusions dramatically suppressed the level of HIV virus in patients not taking antiretroviral therapy (ART).
The phase 1 clinical trial at the Vaccine Research Center of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) involved 23 HIV-infected people, of whom 15 were taking ART and 8 were not. Patients on ART were given 2 infusions of VRC01 28 days apart, those not on ART received 1 antibody infusion. The researchers say infusing the antibodies into a vein or under the skin was safe and well tolerated.
The antibody infusions did not reduce the amount of HIV in the blood cells, but these infusions reduced plasma viral load by 10-fold in 6 patients not on ART. The antibody also did not appear to have any effect in people taking ART whose virus was already suppressed.
In 2 patients who began with the lowest viral loads, the antibody suppressed HIV to extremely low levels for approximately 3 weeks or as long as VRC01 was present at therapeutic concentrations. In 4 other people whose HIV levels declined, viral load fell “substantially” although not to undetectable levels. In 2 people not on ART, viral loads remained steady. The researchers subsequently found that the predominant HIV strain in these patients’ bodies had been resistant to VRC01 at the outset.