(HealthDay News) – Cells that remain infected with HIV even after antiretroviral treatment can be effectively killed with a radiolabeled antibody targeting HIV infected cells, including cells in the brain, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, held from Dec. 1–6 in Chicago.

Ekaterina Dadachova, PhD, from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, NY, and colleagues investigated the ability of radioimmunotherapy (consisting of the radiolabeled monoclonal antibody [mAb] 2556 to the HIV gp41 protein, 213Bi-2556 mAb) to kill HIV-infected lymphocytes treated with antiretroviral therapy.

The researchers found that radioimmunotherapy was effective in killing HIV-infected lymphocytes treated with antiretroviral therapy, based on the reduction of the HIV p24 protein to undetectable levels. The combination of treatments was more effective than either treatment alone in reducing viral production. The radiolabeled antibody was also able to kill significantly more HIV-infected than uninfected monocytes in the brain, with no significant damage to the integrity of the blood brain barrier.

“Antiretroviral treatment only partially penetrates the blood brain barrier, which means that even if a patient is free of HIV systemically, the virus is still able to rage on in the brain, causing cognitive disorders and mental decline,” Dadachova said in a statement. “Our study showed that radioimmunotherapy is able to kill HIV-infected cells both systemically and within the central nervous system.”

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