A drug used to treat Crohn's disease could suppress HIV, monkey study suggests

Researchers are investigating whether an antibody used to treat Crohn’s disease could also help suppress HIV, based on a study done in monkeys recently published.

The drug, vedolizumab, appears to have reduced simian immunodeficiency virus, or SIV, to virtually undetectable levels in infected macaques and kept them there for two years, even after they were taken off of antiretroviral therapy, or ART, said senior author Aftab Ansari.

“These monkeys are basically controlling the virus themselves,” said Ansari, a pathologist at Emory University and a faculty member in the IMP program.

The study, published in the journal Science, reported generally undetectable levels of SIV up to nine months after the monkeys given vedolizumab stopped ART, but the scientists have continued to follow them. And now, researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases are recruiting up to 20 people for an early-stage clinical trial using a similar protocol: taking the patients off ART and treating them with vedolizumab, sold commercially as Entyvio.

The researchers will be investigating whether the combined treatment is safe and controls HIV levels.

Click here to view the full story in STAT. The story was also featured in the Emory News Center, Science, The Scientist, Healthday, Reuters, and International Business Times.