A “functional cure” to HIV may have been discovered by a team of researchers at Hong Kong University’s AIDS Institute.
The discovery made by Professor Chen Zhiwei demonstrated that the new antibody can help control the virus and eliminate infected cells.
Professor Chen says that the new antibody, which was tested on mice, could be used for both treatment and prevention.
It is hoped that a treatment can be developed to save China from a growing HIV epidemic particularly among high risk groups such as sex workers and men who have sex with men (MSM).
Figures from the UN-supported AIDS Data Hub state that there are around 850,000 people in China infected with HIV.
Currently, HIV treatments are able to suppress the virus via daily oral medication, while this new antibody will be able to be injected quarterly and have the added benefit of eliminating infected cells.
Chen stated that the antibody would be able to treat all varieties of HIV. This will be the first since there is no vaccine to cure different types of HIV viruses.
“For our newly discovered bispecific antibody, it works for all of them, so that’s the major difference,” Chen told Reuters.
Professor Chen’s goal is to bring the antibody into clinical trials and would allow 3-5 years of thorough study.