New research suggests that drugs commonly used to prevent organ rejection after transplantation may also be helpful for combating HIV. The findings, which are published in the American Journal of Transplantation, suggest a new strategy in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Despite the effectiveness of antiviral therapies at suppressing HIV, the virus still persists indefinitely at low levels in infected patients who are diligent about taking their medications.
"Current therapies fail to cure the disease as they do not attack those viruses that remain hidden within the immune system," said Steven Deeks, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco. Researchers suspect that inflammation in the body in response to HIV infection may create an environment that supports this viral persistence.
Dr. Deeks and his colleagues wondered whether immunosuppressant therapy could reduce such inflammation and therefore help defeat HIV. To investigate, the team looked at how HIV infection is affected by immunosuppressants that are commonly taken by kidney transplant recipients to reduce their risk of rejection. The analysis included 91 recipients who were followed for a median of 3.2 years post-transplant.
When the investigators analyzed blood samples from the study participants, they found that HIV remained well-controlled following transplantation and long-term exposure to immunosuppressive drugs. Importantly, they also discovered that patients who took a particular immunosuppressant called sirolimus as part of their treatment regimen had fewer cells in their blood that were infected with HIV over time.
The findings suggest that immune-modifying drugs such as sirolimus may affect the level of HIV persistence. "Based on the observations in this study, the NIH is now sponsoring a targeted study to see if sirolimus might indeed contribute to a cure of HIV infection," said Dr. Deeks.
Dr. Deeks, who is an HIV researcher and clinician, noted that the work was done in collaboration with UCSF transplant surgeons led by Peter Stock, MD, PhD, and study coordinator Rodney Rogers. "Our study highlights the potential synergies that can occur when two very different disciplines merge their talents and resources," said Dr. Deeks. "We feel that the transplant community has much to teach the HIV community about the potential role of strong immune-suppressing drugs in curing HIV disease."
The results come only several months after the federal government passed legislation—called the HIV Organ Transplant Equity (HOPE) Act—to end the federal ban on the transplantation of HIV-positive organs to patients with HIV.
Evelyn Martinez | EurekAlert!
Research investigates whether solar events could trigger birth defects on Earth
21.07.2015 | University of Kansas
Accounting for short-lived forcers in carbon budgets
15.07.2015 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Researchers have developed an ultrafast light-emitting device that can flip on and off 90 billion times a second and could form the basis of optical computing.
Joint BioEnergy Institute study identifies bacterial protein that is key to protecting rice against bacterial blight
A bacterial signal that when recognized by rice plants enables the plants to resist a devastating blight disease has been identified by a multi-national team...
Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin are one step closer to delivering smart windows with a new level of energy efficiency, engineering materials that allow windows to reveal light without transferring heat and, conversely, to block light while allowing heat transmission, as described in two new research papers.
By allowing indoor occupants to more precisely control the energy and sunlight passing through a window, the new materials could significantly reduce costs for...
Argonne scientists used Mira to identify and improve a new mechanism for eliminating friction, which fed into the development of a hybrid material that exhibited superlubricity at the macroscale for the first time. Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF) researchers helped enable the groundbreaking simulations by overcoming a performance bottleneck that doubled the speed of the team's code.
While reviewing the simulation results of a promising new lubricant material, Argonne researcher Sanket Deshmukh stumbled upon a phenomenon that had never been...
A NASA camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite has returned its first view of the entire sunlit side of Earth from one million miles away.
The color images of Earth from NASA's Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) are generated by combining three separate images to create a...
23.07.2015 | Event News
10.07.2015 | Event News
25.06.2015 | Event News
27.07.2015 | Materials Sciences
27.07.2015 | Information Technology
27.07.2015 | Power and Electrical Engineering