Newly completed Phase 1 clinical trials of a new HIV treatment look promising and could lead the way to a new approach to stopping HIV using antibodies.
From the San Diego Tribune:
The drug is an antibody that neutralizes a broad range of HIV strains. The broadly neutralizing antibody, called VRC01, reduced the level of circulating virus more than 10-fold in 6 of 8 HIV-positive patients who had not received antiviral drugs.
The other two were found to have a strain of HIV resistant to the antibody. And in 15 people whose infection was already suppressed with antiviral therapy, the antibody had no effect.
In all 23 patients tested, the antibody was found safe. VRC01 kills about 90 percent of HIV strains.
Because the antibodies are made by the body, after being "trained" by the vaccine, this approach is called active immunization. Administering a prepared broadly neutralizing antibody is known as passive immunization, because it doesn't rely on an immune response from the patient. The antibody directly attacks the virus.
While active immunization is generally the best way to fight disease, an effective HIV vaccine hasn't been yet developed. So developing more and better treatments to stop HIV remains a high priority.