10 June 2021

HIV prevention – while on monkeys

Antibodies prevent HIV infection in monkeys

The experimental antibody leronlimab (leronlimab), created in the laboratory, can completely prevent infection of non-human monkeys with the ape form of HIV. This is evidenced by the results of a new study published in the journal Nature Communications (Chang et al., Antibody-based CCR5 blockade protects Macaques from mucosal SHIV transmission).

The findings will form the basis for future human clinical trials in which leronlimab will be used as a potential pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, to prevent human infection with the virus that causes AIDS.

"The results of our study show that leronlimab can become a new weapon in the fight against the HIV epidemic",

said the lead researcher and co-author of the article Jonah Sacha, professor at Oregon Health & Science University.

(As for the fight against the epidemic, this is, of course, noble, but here, among other things, it says: "CytoDyn is expected to set the price for leronlimab at a price similar to that of its main competitor, Trogarzo, which is approximately 118,000 US dollars per patient. Obviously, this is the price for a course of treatment for HIV infection, but even from this it is clear that very few people will be able to afford to inject them once every 2 weeks - VM).

A monoclonal antibody created by CytoDyn blocks the penetration of HIV into immune cells through the CCR5 surface protein. This injectable drug has already been tested as a potential treatment for people living with HIV when used in combination with standard antiretroviral drugs. CytoDyn is in the process of submitting information to The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to request permission for such use. However, in this study, it was the prevention of HIV infection that was considered.

To study the effectiveness of leronlimab as a potential drug for the prevention of HIV infection, scientists have formed in The Oregon National Primate Research Center has three groups of rhesus monkeys, two monkeys each. Two groups received different doses of leronlimab, and the third, the control group, was not given the drug. Scientists infected animals with HIV to test the effectiveness of the antibody.

Macaques who received a higher dose of 50 milligrams per kilogram of animal body weight once every two weeks were completely protected from the monkey form of HIV. On the contrary, both animals receiving a lower dose of 10 milligrams per kilogram of weight per week became infected, as did both macaques in the control group.

CytoDyn plans to conduct early clinical trials of leronlimab as a potential drug for the prevention of HIV infection in humans over the next year. Doses of the drug for humans are likely to be lower than those used in this study, since rhesus macaque cells contain more surface protein CCR5 than human ones.

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