By contrast, four out of five monkeys who received a "control" antibody died within four months.
"What is amazing to me how rapidly you can actually change these killer cells," Amara said. "Now they are good cells."
The work of the monkeys is done and they will be euthanized, Amara said. It is too expensive -- $7 a day each -- to pay for their care with available funding, he said.
In humans, the treatment could cost a couple thousand dollars per dose, Amara said, although patients might then avoid taking drugs for life.
Dr. Mark Connors, a specialist in AIDS research, said the research is "clearly valid and very interesting. I'm sure it's going to generate debate over the next year or so as to what it means."
Even skeptics may be convinced by evidence that the treatment directly affects survival and the level of the virus in the body, said Connors, chief of the HIV-Specific Immunity Section at the U.S. National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases.
As for the future, Connors said he's "guardedly optimistic" that the treatment could be used in humans, perhaps in conjunction with other medications.
To learn more about AIDS, go to AIDS.gov.
SOURCES: Rama Rao Amara, Ph.D., assistant professor, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, Atlanta; Mark Connors, M.D., chief, HIV-Specific Immunity Section, U.S. National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, Md.; Dec. 10, 2008, Nature, online
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