"At ViiV Healthcare, we are exploring the role bNAbs can play in two key areas; identifying the next generation of long-acting HIV treatments, and our work in HIV cure and remission."
At our dedicated HIV research facility in Branford, Connecticut, USA, we’re striving to develop long-acting treatments with new delivery methods, aimed at providing convenience, and enhancing adherence for people living with HIV. As we embark on this new avenue of long-acting therapy and research into the next generation of HIV medicines, the inclusion of bNAbs allows us to explore the additional benefits they may offer.
The second approach in to the use of bNAbs is within our cure and remission strategy. The concept Induce, Reduce and Enhance is a strategy which is focused on identifying dormant HIV that may be hiding in human cells undetected by the immune system over prolonged periods of time while virus replication is suppressed through antiretroviral (ARV) therapy. Once identified, we drive this reservoir out of hiding (Induce) so that it can be eliminated (Reduce).
New pioneering research on the Induce strategy was published in the journal Nature. This collaborative research, conducted by ViiV Healthcare, the Cure Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Emory University, summarised a scientific breakthrough in our efforts to bring HIV out of hiding. For the first time, using a class of drugs new to the HIV field, a signalling pathway in cells was activated that could induce the hidden HIV to reactivate and become visible, while having relatively few other unwanted effects on the cells (in vitro/animal studies). Once virus release is induced, these cells become visible to the immune system and could be eliminated if specific anti-HIV immune responses can be generated. Although in early stages, our Reduce strategy is where the bNAbs comes in. Studies have shown that certain bNAbs hold a ‘reservoir reduction capacity’, meaning that they possess the potential to help kill the hidden virus in cells, which is a sharp contrast to the drug regimens currently being used to treat HIV. Moreover, bnAbs have been reported to have a “vaccinal effect” which can generate T cell mediated antiviral immune responses which will kill infected cells in individual cases. This goes well along with efforts on therapeutic vaccines as part of our Enhance strategy with the goal to harness the body's own immune responses against rebounding virus from latent reservoirs. Reducing or eliminating latently infected HIV cells or reservoirs is seen as the most significant barrier to discovering a cure for HIV.
With that in mind, our goal is clear; to create further treatment options for people living with HIV and ultimately, end the HIV epidemic. Our scientists are continually looking for new ways to deliver the best treatment options for people living with HIV and, despite their complexities, are excited at the prospect of involving broadly neutralising antibodies within our discovery pipeline and HIV research moving forward.
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- Kumar R, Qureshi H, Deshpande S, Bhattacharya J. Broadly neutralizing antibodies in HIV-1 treatment and prevention. The Adv Vaccines Immunotherapy. 2018;6(4):61–68.
- AIDSinfo. 2020. Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies (bNAbs) | Definition | AIDSinfo. [ONLINE] Available at: https://aidsinfo.nih.gov/understanding-hiv-aids/glossary/4674/broadly-neutralizing-antibodies. [Accessed 25 March 2020].