Zim experts lead ground breaking HIV study

Zim experts lead ground breaking HIV study
Published: 24 April 2018 (161 Views)
ZIMBABWEAN health experts and researchers are leading a regional ground breaking HIV study to determine if anti-bodies can prevent HIV infection.

Laboratory tests have shown that a manufactured VRC01 antibody could prevent many different strains of HIV from infecting cells.

The study that was launched in Botswana and dubbed, 'Antibody Mediated Prevention (AMB)', is being co-ordinated by Zimbabwean researcher, Dr Emily Makunike-Shava.

61 Zimbabwean women are participating in the study for the next two years out of a target of 261.

"We are happy because women are willing to take up the study which also encourages them to maintain healthy lifestyles. So they come to our centre every month for their infusions and during the visit we also check for other ailments," said Dr Makunike-Shava.

She said so far 120 women from regional countries are taking part in the study.

"The study is also being carried out in other countries like Zimbabwe, South Africa and Kenya. We will have our results in 2022 and by then we will be able to determine if at all antibodies can be used to prevent HIV infection," said Dr Makunike-Shava.

Participants of the study are given antibodies in form of infusions that fight HIV in order to assess how well they will protect them from HIV infection.

The study was launched in Gaborone by the Botswana Harvard Aids Institute Partnership which houses researchers from all over the region.

The Zimbabwe AMP study co-coordinator, Dr Nyaradzo Mgodi, recently said the antibody concept was similar to how vaccines for polio or chicken pox were developed.

"Some of the antibodies that are used for preventing infections are made in laboratories. Manufactured antibodies have been used successfully to prevent dangerous infections," said Dr Mgodi.

She said laboratory tests have shown that this manufactured VRC01 antibody could prevent many different strains of HIV from infecting cells.

Dr Mgodi added that apart from assessing the effectiveness of infusing VRC01 into a human body intravenously, the study would also assess if the method of infusion is safe and acceptable.

She said to date, Zimbabwe had so far recruited 61 women who were participating in the study for the next two years out of a target of 261.

From Sub Saharan Africa, the study will enrol 1500 women from Botswana, South Africa, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. More so, each volunteer will receive 10 infusions over two years.

- chronicle

Tags: Zim, HIV, Expert,
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