An important new study examines the safety and efficacy of VRC01, a broadly neutralizing anti-HIV antibody, when administered as a long-term HIV prevention method. While earlier VRC01 research has shown the antibody to be safe for human use in short-term administration, the effects of multiple dosages – both via IV or injection – over a longer period of time had not been previously assessed.
Research has shown that immunotherapy and vaccines have the potential to be powerful HIV preventive tools. Broadly neutralizing antibodies are so named because they are effective in neutralizing many strains of HIV and protecting nonhuman animals from infection.
“VRC01 represents the first generation of a new and promising approach for HIV prevention, immunoprophylaxis,” said Dr. Kenneth Mayer, Co-Chair and Medical Research Director of The Fenway Institute and one of the lead authors of this study. “The data from the current paper has been helpful in informing the design of two large efficacy trials of the use of intravenous VRC01 to prevent HIV transmission among at-risk men who have sex with men in the Americas and African women. The results could prove whether this modality represents a new way to protect people against HIV.”
According to the study results, VRC01 administered as either a monthly or bimonthly IV infusion or as an SC injection every 2 weeks was found to be safe, well tolerated, and effective in neutralizing HIV strains. The longer term administration achieved antibody levels that lasted multiple weeks at concentrations that have been shown to inhibit HIV when tested in vitro. After administration, VRC01 showed evidence of immune functions known to block HIV transmission and replication.
These results are encouraging and support the creation of future clinical trials to further explore VRC01’s potential in preventing HIV infection.
Want to receive email updates about what’s happening at Fenway Health? Sign up here.