Safety and virologic impact of the IL-15 superagonist N-803 in people living with HIV: a phase 1 trial

Nat Med. 2022 Feb;28(2):392-400. doi: 10.1038/s41591-021-01651-9. Epub 2022 Jan 31.


There is no cure for HIV infection, and lifelong antiretroviral therapy (ART) is required. N-803 is an IL-15 superagonist comprised of an N72D mutant IL-15 molecule attached to its alpha receptor and a human IgG1 fragment designed to increase IL-15 activity. Preclinical studies with both HIV and SIV suggest that the drug has potential to reduce virus reservoirs by activating virus from latency and enhancing effector function. We conducted a phase 1 study of N-803 ( NCT02191098 ) in people living with HIV, the primary objective of which was to assess the safety and tolerability of the drug, with an exploratory objective of assessing the impact on peripheral virus reservoirs. ART-suppressed individuals were enrolled into a dose-escalation study of N-803 in four different cohorts (0.3, 1.0, 3.0 and 6.0 mcg kg-1). Each cohort received three doses total, separated by at least 1 week. We enrolled 16 individuals, of whom 11 completed all three doses. The maximum tolerated dose was 6.0 mcg kg-1. The primary clinical adverse events (AEs) reported were injection site rash and adenopathy, and four participants experienced a grade 1 or grade 2 QTc prolongation. No significant laboratory AEs attributable to N-803 were observed. In exploratory analyses, N-803 was associated with proliferation and/or activation of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and natural killer cells that peaked at 4 d after dosing. IFN-γ, IP-10, MCP-1 and IL-15 increased during treatment. HIV transcription in memory CD4 T cells and intact proviral DNA initially increased after N-803 treatment; however, there was a small but significant decrease in the frequency of peripheral blood mononuclear cells with an inducible HIV provirus that persisted for up to 6 months after therapy. These data suggest that N-803 administration in ART-suppressed people living with HIV is safe and that larger clinical trials are needed to further investigate the effects of N-803 on HIV reservoirs.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes
  • HIV Infections* / drug therapy
  • HIV-1*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-15 / genetics
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Viral Load


  • ALT-803
  • Interleukin-15
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins

Associated data