Researchers uncover approach for possibly eradicating HIV infection

Jun 21, 2009

Researchers from the newly-established VGTI Florida and the University of Montreal have uncovered a possible method for eradicating HIV infection in the human body. The researchers have also revealed new information which demonstrates how HIV persists in the body - even in patients receiving drug treatments - and how the virus continues to replicate itself in individuals undergoing treatment. The research findings will be published in the online version of the journal Nature Medicine on June 21 and will be featured in an upcoming print edition of the journal.

Medical advancements in the past 20 years have significantly increased the survival rates of AIDS patients. In fact, approximately 90 percent of patients infected with can survive with the disease as long as they are treated with a complex series of .

"Current medications allow us to control and limit its progression in most cases," explained Rafick-Pierre Sékaly, Ph.D., current scientific director for VGTI Florida, a former scientist at the University of Montreal, and senior author of the research paper. "However, the medications do not eradicate the disease. Instead, the disease persists within the body - much like water in a reservoir - and is never fully destroyed. We believe our latest research may help scientists and physicians overcome this hurdle."

The research team was able to identify a possible new way of attacking HIV by first identifying the specific cells where HIV infection persists in patients currently undergoing treatment. They found that the disease is able to survive within two subsets of memory T-cells. Memory T-cells are a portion of the body's immune system and have the ability to learn, detect and attack certain types of infectious diseases.

By infecting cells within the body's own immune system, HIV is able to avoid antiviral treatments that are effective in stopping HIV in other cell types in the body. In-effect, HIV uses the body's own defense system as a hideout.

The research team was also successful in identifying how these HIV-infected memory T-cells replenish themselves. When populating T-cells, HIV does not replicate itself as it does in other cell types on the body. Instead, HIV persists in memory T-cells through cell division - a finding that holds significant implications for possibly stopping the disease.

"Based on this research, we believe one possible method for eliminating HIV in the body is to use a combined approach," said Dr. Sékaly. "We propose the use of medications that target viral replication of HIV throughout the body, in combination with drugs that prevent infected memory T-cells from dividing. We believe that by attacking the disease in these distinct two ways at once for an extended period of time, we can eliminate the reservoirs of HIV that currently persist within the human body, leaving an individual disease-free."

The next step for researchers is to begin testing their proposed treatment method using animal models and newly developed therapies.

"While this is a preliminary finding, we are hopeful that this research discovery will guide us in eradicating HIV infection in the body," said Dr. Sékaly.

Source: Oregon Health & Science University (news : web)

Explore further: Intimacy a strong motivator for PrEP HIV prevention

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

HIV persists in the gut despite long-term HIV therapy

Feb 13, 2008

Even with effective anti-HIV therapies, doctors still have not been able to eradicate the virus from infected individuals who are receiving such treatments, largely because of the persistence of HIV in hideouts known as viral ...

Early HIV treatment fails to restore memory T cells

Dec 05, 2006

Most of the body’s memory T cells vanish within weeks after a person is infected with the HIV virus. In a study from the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center and the Bernard-Nocht Institute appearing in the international ...

Exhausted B cells hamper immune response to HIV

Jul 14, 2008

Recent studies have shown that HIV causes a vigorous and prolonged immune response that eventually leads to the exhaustion of key immune system cells--CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells--that target HIV. These tired cells become less ...

Exhausted B cells fail to fight HIV

Jul 14, 2008

HIV tires out the cells that produce virus-fighting proteins known as antibodies, according to a human study that will be published online July 14 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

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