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Crohn’s disease drug produces long-lasting viral undetectability and T-cell restoration off treatment in monkeys
Gus Cairns, 2016-10-14 20:30:00

In a promising experiment in rhesus macaque monkeys, scientists from Emory University in Atlanta have used a monkey-adapted version of vedolizumab (Entyvio), a drug used to treat gut inflammation, to produce persistent viral load control and T-cell restoration in monkeys taken off antiretroviral therapy (ART).

The viral control and immune recovery persisted for 30 weeks: 14 weeks after monkeys were taken off ART but kept on the vedolizumab analogue, and for 16 more weeks after this was withdrawn. In fact, viral load control appeared to continue to improve throughout the period when the monkeys were off all therapy.

The researchers are uncertain why the drug works, but saw increases in a particular kind of Natural Killer (NK) cell that appears to be enabled by the drug to deal with HIV infection better, and an immune response to the HIV envelope protein that resembles one of the responses seen in the trial of the RV144 HIV vaccine.

A small human trial of vedolizumab is already underway.