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Hong Kong Scientists Are Testing A Drug That Prevents HIV & Treats It Long Term

April 29, 2018 Devin Jackson Randall Current Affairs

A Drug That Prevents HIV & Treats It

A team of scientists run by the University of Hong Kong has developed a new antibody drug that could not only act as HIV prevention, but also act as treatment for the drug as well.

If the drug trials succeed, we could see a revolution in HIV/AIDs treatment where people could take this drug occasionally instead of taking PrEP every day.

The team of scientists reported their findings recently through the peer-reviewed Journal of Clinical Investigation.

In the paper, they shared that they were testing on “humanized mice.” Mice are “humanized” when their embryos are altered to include human genes.

In this specific case, the embryos were filled with “broad neutralizing antibodies” or bNabs. This was to create a similar immune system to that of humans.

The mice were then infected with HIV to mimic when a human contracts the disease, and then scientists studied the effects of applied drugs and chemicals.

More: Thrive, A Film To Update The Public Narrative On HIV

The one drug that created a result the researchers liked is BilA-SG. This drug created results that made Professor Chen Zhiwei, the team’s leader and the director of HKU’s Aids Institute, call BilA-SG “one of the most potent and effective antibody drugs.”

Not only were the mice protected from contracting the disease, but the team found that 42 percent of the mice had an “undetectable level” of the virus for at least four weeks.

Having discovered this, Chen says that he wants to focus on making the effects of this antibody drug last longer.

“We are doing further modifications … to make sure the drug concentration can be maintained for much longer time. We are targeting [for this to be] weeks or even months,” he said.

Let’s not forget, however, that the drug is dual acting and will work 100% in protecting people from getting the disease. In fact, the trial has so far found that the drug protects against 124 strains of HIV. This is especially important because the problem with treating and protecting people from HIV is that it grows and mutates rapidly.

That said, this is still just a drug trail and the researchers can’t be totally sure of the drug’s results just yet. They plan to now test the drug on monkeys before starting human trials.

Despite not being totally sure of BilA-SG, researchers are hopeful about the drug and are spreading the word of a possible breakthrough in the fight against HIV/AIDs.

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