Genetically altered mice were able to resist 100 times the level of HIV that would normally cause an infection.
Nature - Antibody-based protection against HIV infection by vectored immunoprophylaxis
"We produce a similar effect to a vaccine, but without ever calling on the immune system to do any of the work," says Alejandro Balazs, a member of
The team loaded a harmless, cold-related virus called adeno-associated virus (AAV) with genes that make potent antibodies to HIV. Then they used them to "infect" the leg muscles of mice with genes that pump out the antibodies.
"The idea here is to basically supply the body with its own factory for making anti-HIV antibodies," says
The mice continued to make the antibodies throughout their lives, and stayed healthy despite the researchers' best efforts to overwhelm them with HIV.
"We expected that at some dose, the antibodies would fail to protect the mice, but there was no infection even when we gave mice 100 times more HIV than would be needed to infect seven out of eight mice," says Balaz