A cure to HIV could be a step closer thanks to two long awaited trials recruiting at The Alfred.
The NIVO-LD and Titan trials are implementing new techniques in treating the virus, refreshing hopes that a cure could be on the horizon.
Head of Clinical Research at the Alfred’s Department of Infectious Diseases James McMahon said the NIVO-LD trial will explore the impact of Nivolumab - a drug used to treat cancers like melanoma - on immune responses to HIV infection.
“We’re trying to understand if this specific drug can work to decrease HIV left over in someone with HIV on their normal antiretroviral therapy... or if it can manipulate the immune system in some way to control HIV,” A/Professor McMahon said.
“Nivolumab has produced strong results in kidney cancers and melamona... it wakes up the immune system to fight these cancers and we’re wanting to see if it does something similar with HIV”.
In the first phase of the study, which is a collaboration with Professor Sharon Lewin from the Doherty Institute and funded by a grant from the Victorian government through the Melbourne HIV Cure Consortium, 18 people living with HIV on antiretroviral therapy (ART) will receive one of three different doses of Nivolumab (at much lower doses to that given in cancer therapy) to determine which is the most effective dose.
In the second phase, 24 people living with HIV will be randomly selected to receive either the dose of Nivolumab determined in the first phase to be the most effective or a placebo.
They will then undergo a closely monitored 5-week interruption of ART to see if Nivolumab is able to help control HIV without ART.
The second study is a global collaboration between researchers at The Alfred and Doherty Institute in Melbourne and University of Aarhus in Denmark.
A/Professor McMahon said the Titan study, like the NIVO-LD study, will look at the effect of another immune stimulating treatment drug combined with antibodies designed to target HIV.
“The Titan trial is exploring the effect of the immune stimulating drug lefitolimod and two broadly neutralizing antibodies called 3BNC117 and 10-1074, and their ability to find residual HIV and increase how the immune system can respond to HIV.”
“We’ve been working on both of these important trials for some years and we now have all the elements and approvals in place to start, enrolling people into the studies, it’s a very exciting time for this work.”
The Alfred provides a statewide HIV service, which provides comprehensive care for Victorians affected by or infected with HIV. Learn more about the Victorian HIV Service