In the absence of active vaccines that can prevent HIV, medical research showed that the use of passive immunotherapy provides an alternative form of preventive measure against the spread of the virus. Passive immunotherapy uses antibodies that are not naturally produced in the body. These antibodies are made from laboratories and are administered to HIV infected patients to provide the body an adequate immunity against the human immunodeficiency virus. While these antibodies do not stimulate the body's natural immune system, these agents can help prevent the symptoms and fight off the virus in like manner as vaccines do.
What is HIV?
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is an autoimmune deficiency that can produce flu-like symptoms such as the common cold. The pathology of HIV is related to the virus' ability to invade the normal cells in the body where it reproduces itself with the resulting HIV symptoms. The virus weakens the body's immune system, thereby making the infected person more susceptible in contracting other diseases and infection.
The body's immune system can normally fight common diseases and infections. However, in HIV, the body's ability to combat the virus is inefficient. Individuals with the infection will have this disease throughout their lifetime because there is no cure for the condition. The virus specifically targets the body's T cells, more particularly the CD4 cells. These are the cells that are responsible for combating disease and infections in the body. The invasion of the HIV virus to these cells results in the process of HIV virus replication and then destroying them, making the immune system weak.
Once the HIV becomes a full blown condition, the infected individual may reach its final stage of contracting AIDS. Only those with a compromised immune system to a greater extent acquire AIDS after an HIV infection, but not all HIV cases results in AIDS. Being a lifetime condition, infected individuals need continued therapy and medication to keep the body healthy and protect it against other infections.
The benefits of immunotherapy for HIV
In the absence of a cure for HIV infection, the use of laboratory-made antibodies can help suppress the spread of the infection and control its symptoms. A medical research revealed that passive immunotherapy showed some repression to the progression of the infection and it helps to neutralize the HIV specific antibodies (bNAbs) that prevents the virus from multiplying. The antibodies PGT121, VRCO1 and VRCO3 are shown to be effective in blocking the HIV virus. They are known to prevent the virus from entering the CD4+ T cells and also prevent their replication inside the cells.
Because there are antiretroviral drugs that can help suppress HIV, these agents are costly and sometimes not appropriate among patients with drug intolerance. As a result, many HIV patients remain to be susceptible from the infection because of some of these barriers. Passive immunotherapy using the bNAbs, either as an individual treatment or in combination with other drugs, is known to be a successful medical breakthrough that can help patients with HIV. Further clinical trials are still underway and it can become a promising treatment for HIV in the future.
Common side effects
Clinical trials conducted for passive immunotherapy apparently produced some side effects like fever, headache, nausea, mild rashes and cold hand and feet. The most common of all these symptoms of adverse effect of passive immunotherapy is the rash. It appears are redness with papules and appears between the 3rd to the 25th day of treatment. The rash, however, typically resolves within two days for mild rash and 7 days for the more severe rash. Rare but serious side effects are neuropathy and varicella-zoster infection. In some cases, the patient may also feel fatigue.