More than 40 million people are infected with HIV. While the rate of new infections has decreased, and effective antiretroviral drug therapy is available, resource-poor settings in regions of the developing may limit the access to lifesaving drugs. Hence, in the absence of drug therapy, HIV-infected individuals may die in a matter of 10 years or less.
Despite tremendous efforts to develop a truly effective HIV vaccine and curative therapy, alternative approaches are being investigated.
In this episode, we talk to Dr. Sebastian P. Fuchs and Dr. Jose M. Martinez-Navio who recently published a paper in the journal Immunity reporting a functional cure of a SHIV-infected monkey. Their approach involved adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated delivery of broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV. A one-time injection that leads to the production of antibodies is an alternative immunization approach where the anti-HIV immune response is "transported" to the individual. The authors also discuss challenges of the approach (a host immune response against the encoded antibodies) and what problems remain to be solved before a clinical trial is realistic.