Scientists have created a man-made antibody that has been found to attack 99% of all HIV strains.
The tests were carried out on primates, but the drug’s manufacturer Sanofi has confirmed it will start human trials by the end of 2018.
If the trials are successful this antibody could be used as a long-term treatment for HIV or even as a vaccine.
HIV is incredibly difficult to fight thanks to its astonishing ability to mutate regularly. To even have a hope of helping the body fight it there needs to be a response that tackles not just one strain of HIV but every strain.
This is where Sanofi’s drug steps in. This is a three-pronged collection of broad antibodies that are capable of attacking multiple strains of HIV, 99% in fact.
In the past there have been examples where the human body itself has actually been able to develop what’s known as a broadly neutralising anitbody allowing it to attack multiple strains of the virus.
Since then we’ve been trying to develop our own man-made versions not least because it can tackle HIV but also because it could help fight other diseases such as cancer.
Speaking in an interview, Sanofi Chief Scientific Officer Gary Nabel said:
“There is certainly urgency for a vaccine and this could help fill that void, but we need to do the clinical studies and let nature tell us what works.”
Earlier this year scientists were able to show that a concoction of currently available drugs could in fact help the body eventually fight off HIV completely unaided.
In the innovative trial patients were given a booster dose of a vaccine followed by three doses of Romidepsin (a cancer drug that has shown potential for flushing HIV out of hiding) and finally another vaccine booster.
They were then taken off their daily ART.
While ten patients did see the virus bounce back, five of those showed signs that their bodies had successfully suppressed the virus and for a period of time were able to live virus-free and without the need for drugs.