In a continuation of our decades-long commitment to treating and preventing HIV/AIDS, Fenway Health will soon serve as a testing site for a revolutionary new study that explores whether antibodies can be used to combat individual HIV infections.
Also known as HVTN 703/HPTN 081, the AMP (Antibody Mediated Prevention) study tests the efficacy of an experimental antibody in protecting against HIV infection.
“This study is particularly significant, since if it is successful, it will create a brand new way to protect people against HIV,” said Dr. Kenneth Mayer, Co-Chair and Medical Research Director at The Fenway Institute. “The work will also help inform future studies of vaccines to protect against HIV.”
AMP explores a unique approach to HIV prevention by evaluating whether administered antibodies – proteins that recognize HIV – can protect against HIV, Dr. Mayer explained. The AMP study differs from previous HIV prevention studies because of the antibodies are created in a laboratory and will be administered to participants.
“There’s been a lot of effort [in HIV clinical trials] to figure out how to get a vaccine that could stimulate broadly-neutralizing antibodies – which so far, has been this elusive Holy Grail,” explained Gail Broder, Community Engagement Project Manager at Seattle-based HIV Vaccine Trials Network. “It’s important for antibodies to be broadly-neutralizing [i.e. act against multiple strains of HIV], because typical antibodies may only been effective against one strand of HIV – not effective globally.”
Our bodies naturally create antibodies to fight off infections, but manufactured antibodies – antibodies that are created in a laboratory, rather than inside a human body – have also been used to successfully treat infectious diseases for years. In vaccine studies, shots are administered and researchers evaluate whether participants create their own antibodies. In the AMP study, this step is skipped, with participants instead receiving already created antibodies intravenously – that is, via an IV drip. These antibodies cannot cause HIV/AIDS infection because they do not contain HIV. AMP is the first study of its kind to test whether these manufactured antibodies can prevent HIV infections in people.
“We’re still looking for new ways to prevent HIV that will be effective for the populations that need it the most,” said Broder. “That’s where this research comes in.”
Study participants will have initial physical exams that include blood tests. Over the course of the study, participants will receive 10 IV infusions, once every 8 weeks. Each infusion will last approximately 30 to 60 minutes. Infusions may contain the study antibody or a placebo – inactive. Throughout the study, participants will be asked to keep track of how they feel for the three days following each infusion and be in contact with clinic staff. Finally, participants will complete short follow-up visits that include HIV counseling and testing, and answering questions from clinic staff.
To be eligible to join the AMP study, a person must be healthy, between 18 and 50 years old, and not infected with HIV. Participants cannot be pregnant or breastfeeding. During eligibility screening and physical exams, clinic staff will inquire about medical histories, take blood and urine samples for testing, and ask about recent sexual activity and drug use.
For more information and to see if you may be eligible to join the study, please call 617.927.6029 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.