A new research study at Oregon Health Science University - OHSU is probing new treatment options for newborn infants who receive the HIV virus from their mothers.
Mother to infant transmission of HIV is a worldwide problem that researches have been wrestling with for a decades. The 2011 study is follow up of 2010 research that broke new ground in treatment options for HIV.
The new research at OHSU constituted a scientific breakthrough in HIV research because it opened up a new direction in treatment options.
While previous research has focused on preserving T-cells (the part of the immune system that is most destroyed by the HIV virus), the OHSU study focused on HIV-specific neutralizing antibodies. These antibodies are naturally acquired by the infant through the mother's placenta and can play a role in slowing the progression of the disease.
While it was previously thought that HIV antibodies played an insignificant role in fighting the disease, OHSU's research suggests otherwise.
In the 2010 study one group of infant monkeys was given antibodies that were matched to SHIV, a human-monkey hybrid of HIV, a second group was given antibodies derived from mothers, and a third group was given antibodies that did not exactly match the SHIV virus.
Six months after infection the monkeys who received antibodies exactly matching SHIV had significantly lower levels of SHIV, more antibodies, and a much higher T-cell count than the monkeys in the other two groups.
The results from this study suggest that boosting an infant's levels of HIV antibodies can significantly slow or potentially halt the progression of the disease. This new research has huge implications for HIV victims.
Nancy Haigwood, director of the Oregon National Primate Research Center at OHSU has said that this new research, while not a cure for HIV, has the potential to "reduce suffering and extend lives.”
Haigwood is involved in the most recent HIV research at OHSU. She elaborates on her new research in the video below.
If you are interested in this new research or have thoughts about the implications of a new direction in HIV research and treatment please comment on this article. How will a focus on antibodies effect new research? What does this new treatment mean for victims of HIV?
If you would like to meet the OHSU researchers in person and talk to them about new HIV treatment innovations attend Biotechnology Calendar, Inc.'s BioResearch Product Faire™ at OHSU on September 1 of this year. Exhibitors can get more exhibit information and see our 2011 national show schedule.