U.S. scientists have launched the first clinical trial to test antibody-drug combination as a long-acting treatment for people living with HIV.

The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) announced Friday that investigators are studying whether the long-acting drug cabotegravir and an antibody called VRC07-523LS are safe and tolerable.

The Phase 2 trial will also test whether the combination could prevent HIV from rebounding to detectable levels in people who previously kept the virus suppressed with daily antiretroviral therapy.

The antiretroviral drug cabotegravir can interrupt HIV replication within a cell by preventing viral DNA from integrating into the cell’s DNA.

The antibody prevents HIV from entering a cell in the first place by binding directly to the virus at its cell-docking site. The antibody neutralizes 96 percent of HIV strains on a globally representative panel.

The ideal antibody-antiretroviral drug combination would be self-administered as a single shot under the skin, the way people with diabetes give themselves insulin, every eight weeks or more, according to NIAID.

The trial will take place at 18 sites in the United States and Puerto Rico. The investigators will enroll 74 people aged 18 years or older who are living with HIV and have been taking daily antiretroviral therapy that has kept the virus suppressed for two years or more. Results are expected in 2022. Enditem

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