New research has shown that broadly neutralizing antibodies (BNAs) can block HIV from entering into or replicating inside of CD4 cells in a laboratory setting. The findings suggest the possible feasibility of “passive immunotherapy,” in which people living with the virus would receive periodic administrations of BNAs instead of antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.

Publishing their findings in PNAS, researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) extracted HIV from the latent reservoirs of 29 HIV-positive people who were taking ARVs who had a fully suppressed viral load. Next the scientists conducted laboratory experiments to analyze how effectively various BNAs combat the virus.

They found that several of the BNAs, notably PGT121, VRC01 and VRC03, effectively blocked HIV from entering CD4 cells that had been drawn from HIV-negative people.  Also, these BNAs succeeded in completely blocking HIV’s replication in CD4s drawn from people living with HIV who were taking ARVs.

Various clinical trials are currently underway to test whether using either individual BNAs or combinations of the antibodies can control HIV without the need for ARVs.

To read the study abstract, click here.

To read the NIAID press release, click here.