HIV antibodies guarded monkeys from the disease for six months

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There’s no known vaccine for HIV, but researchers have a temporary preventative treatment in the works. A team of American and German scientists tested a quartet of injectable antibodies in monkeys that staved off the human immunodeficiency virus for up to six months, according to a paper published in Nature. The antibodies were harvested from HIV-infected people, cleaned and then given to macaques before they were dosed with a strain of simian HIV.

“This study is the first one to show that a single administration of these monoclonal antibodies can prevent infection, prevent disease and might be a viable alternative for a vaccine against HIV,” the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Malcolm Martin tells The Verge. Beyond that the methods used in the experiment apparently mimic how HIV exposure usually occurs: the monkeys were repeatedly given low doses of HIV rather than one large dose at once; infection in humans doesn’t typically happen upon first exposure.

One of the antibodies from this experiment is already being tested domestically and in Brazil and Peru, and will expand to Botswana, South Africa and Tanzania. The Verge writes that, should the results from the trial (due in 2022) prove promising, these antibodies could lead to a preventative treatment.

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