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Fact Sheet
Immune Therapies in Development

October 31, 2011

NOTE: Several fact sheets describe drugs that are being tested against HIV:

These drugs have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use against HIV.

What Are Immune Therapies?

Most HIV medications attack the virus to slow down its multiplication. Another approach to treating HIV infection is "defense", strengthening the immune response of people who are infected. This fact sheet describes new immune therapies.

Immune-based therapies (IBTs) include various approaches to improve health by strengthening the immune system:

Immune Stimulators

These are designed to improve overall immune function.

Therapeutic Vaccines

Therapeutic vaccines improve HIV-specific T-cell responses in patients whose viral load is suppressed by ART. This should permit better control of HIV if the ART is stopped. Another approach is to treat HIV-positive people before HIV infection causes a significant drop in CD4 counts. This should delay the need for ART.

There are many drug candidates in early stages of study. Some of these take a patient's immune cells and genetically modify them. They are then multiplied and given back to the patient to continue growing and fight HIV.

Anti-Inflammatory Approaches

Inflammation is associated with many bad health outcomes (see Fact Sheet 484.) Several methods are being studied to reduce inflammation.

Gene Therapies

Several approaches are being studied to make CD4 cells resistant to HIV infection. Some of these involve taking an HIV-infected patient's immune cells, modifying them, multiplying them and giving them back to the patient to continue growing and to resist HIV infection.

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