Personalized immunotherapy to fight HIV/AIDS

Aug 15, 2008

For a long time, the main obstacle to creating an AIDS vaccine has been the high genetic variability of the HIV virus. Dr. Jean-Pierre Routy and his team from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), in collaboration with Dr. Rafick Sékaly from the Université de Montréal, have overcome this difficulty by designing a personalized immunotherapy for HIV-infected patients. The team's findings were presented on August 5 at the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City.

"Our approach is unique in the world: no one else has yet developed customized immunotherapy using the virus from individual patients," said Dr. Routy. "This experimental technique remains long and costly for the moment, but we're hoping it will hold the promise of a completely innovative and widely available treatment in the future."

This immunotherapy is based on the properties of dendritic cells, whose role is to present specific proteins from infectious organisms at their surface, thereby alerting the rest of the immune system. In collaboration with Argos Therapeutics, the researchers designed a study in which the dendritic cells of nine study patients were multiplied in vitro and then treated with the RNA (ribonucleic acid) from the virus that had infected each patient. A virus sample was taken before the administration of any antiretroviral treatment.

The surfaces of these manipulated dendritic cells present an increased number of HIV proteins, which allows them to stimulate the cytotoxic response of a certain type of immune cell called CD8+ lymphocytes. After receiving multiple subcutaneous injections of these dendritic cells, eight of the nine patients involved experienced a significant increase in CD8+ lymphocyte activity.

"At this stage, we have shown that the technique doesn't cause side effects or an undesirable auto-immune response," said Dr. Routy. "Health Canada has approved a multicentre clinical trial across the country that will let us further assess the technique's effectiveness at controlling HIV reproduction. We're hoping that the FDA in the United States will also give us the go-ahead soon so that our pharmaceutical partner, Argos Therapeutics, can begin testing in the United States."

While more research needs to be done, this new target may lead to an innovative therapeutic approach to fight the AIDS pandemic.

Source: McGill University

Explore further: Study models ways to cut Mexico's HIV rates

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers use nanoparticles to fight cancer

Aug 14, 2013

Researchers at the University of Georgia are developing a new treatment technique that uses nanoparticles to reprogram immune cells so they are able to recognize and attack cancer. The findings were published ...

Macavity wasn't there! How absent reoviruses kill cancer

Feb 21, 2011

Reoviruses are successfully being used in clinical trials to treat patients with cancer. Not only does the virus cause cancer cells to die, it also forces them to release pro-inflammatory chemokines and cytokines, which in ...

Spanish doctors unveil promising AIDS vaccine

Feb 01, 2011

Spanish researchers announced Tuesday they have developed an AIDS vaccine which cuts the viral load by a significant amount in most patients although they cautioned it is still not enough as a treatment.

Researchers target HIV-related brain difficulties

Oct 07, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- During the last two decades, scientists and doctors have developed a potent mix of medications that nearly stops HIV in its tracks for most patients. This combination antiretroviral therapy, or cART, can ...

Recommended for you

Obese British man in court fight for surgery

Jul 11, 2011

A British man weighing 22 stone (139 kilograms, 306 pounds) launched a court appeal Monday against a decision to refuse him state-funded obesity surgery because he is not fat enough.

2008 crisis spurred rise in suicides in Europe

Jul 08, 2011

The financial crisis that began to hit Europe in mid-2008 reversed a steady, years-long fall in suicides among people of working age, according to a letter published on Friday by The Lancet.

New food labels dished up to keep Europe healthy

Jul 06, 2011

A groundbreaking deal on compulsory new food labels Wednesday is set to give Europeans clear information on the nutritional and energy content of products, as well as country of origin.

Overweight men have poorer sperm count

Jul 04, 2011

Overweight or obese men, like their female counterparts, have a lower chance of becoming a parent, according to a comparison of sperm quality presented at a European fertility meeting Monday.

User comments : 0