An international research team has developed an effective treatment strategy against the HIV-like Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) in rhesus macaques.
According to the WHO, around 36 million people are infected with HIV and a cure for the deadly virus infection has not yet been found. An international research team that includes scientists from the German Primate Center (DPZ), Leibniz Institute for Primate Research in Göttingen, has developed a new treatment strategy against the HIV-related Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV). SI viruses infect different primate species and are regarded as the origin of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. In the study, SIV-infected rhesus macaques were treated with an antiretroviral drug for 90 days and in addition they were treated with a specific antibody for 23 weeks. After finishing this therapy, all macaques showed sustained control of the infection as almost no SI viruses could be detected in the blood and gastro-intestinal tissues. The CD4+ T cells that are essential for the immune system were present in sufficient numbers in these tissues. Two years after finishing the treatment the viral load remained low, the immune system intact, and the rhesus macaques healthy. The treatment strategy thus offers a new and promising approach to the therapy of HIV infections in humans (Science).