Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UCLA scientists uncork fountain of youth for HIV-fighting cells

15.11.2004


Protein may help immune system fend off virus



UCLA scientists have shown that a protein called telomerase prevents the premature aging of the immune cells that fight HIV, enabling the cells to divide indefinitely and prolong their defense against infection. Published Nov. 15 in the Journal of Immunology, the research suggests a future therapy for boosting the weakened immune systems of HIV-positive people.

Every cell contains a tiny cellular clock called a telomere, which shortens each time the cell splits in two. Located at the end of the cell’s chromosome, the telomere limits the number of times a cell can divide. "Immune cells that fight HIV are under constant strain to divide in order to continue performing their protective functions. This massive amount of division shortens these cells’ telomeres prematurely," explained Dr. Rita Effros, Plott Chair in Gerontology and professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "So the telomeres of a 40-year-old person infected with HIV resemble those of a healthy 90-year-old person."


Most scientists agree that telomeres evolved to avert the rampant cell growth that often leads to cancer. Yet many cancers continue growing because they undergo genetic changes and start to produce telomerase, which regenerates their cells’ telomeres.

Effros and first author Mirabelle Dagarag, Ph.D., hypothesized that harnessing telomerase’s power over telomeres may provide a potent weapon in helping the AIDS patient’s exhausted immune system defend itself against HIV. The researchers extracted immune cells from the blood of HIV-infected persons and tested what would happen if telomerase remained permanently switched on in the cell. "By exploiting telomerase’s growth influence on telomeres, we thought we might be able to keep the immune cells youthful and active as they replicated under attack," said Dagarag, a postgraduate researcher. "We used gene therapy to boost the immune cell’s telomerase and then exposed the cell to HIV."

What Dagarag and Effros saw delighted them.

"We found that the immune cells could divide endlessly," said Effros, a member of the UCLA AIDS Institute. "They grew at a normal rate and didn’t show any chromosomal abnormalities that might lead to cancer." "We also saw that telomerase stabilized the telomere length," added Dagarag. "The telomere didn’t shorten each time the cell divided, which left the cell able to vigorously battle HIV much longer."

The UCLA work is the first to prove that maintaining telomerase activity in immune cells from HIV-infected persons prevents telomeres from shortening. "This is the first step toward developing other telomerase-based strategies for controlling HIV disease," said Dagarag. "Increasing the amount of telomerase in certain immune cells may one day hold the key to treating AIDS." "To battle HIV infection effectively, we must strengthen the human immune system -- not just suppress the virus as current drugs do," said Effros. "We need a two-pronged approach to attack the disease from both sides of the medical equation."

Effros and the Geron Corporation, which collaborated on this study, are also testing several non-genetic methods of activating telomerase as potential treatments for persons infected with HIV.

The UCLA team’s approach could provide the foundation for immunotherapy as a treatment for HIV and related diseases that rely on lasting protection by the same immune cells. These include cancer and latent cytomegalovirus, a viral infection that often strikes organ-transplant patients and persons with AIDS.

Elaine Schmidt | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucla.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Research team creates new possibilities for medicine and materials sciences
22.01.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

nachricht Saarland University bioinformaticians compute gene sequences inherited from each parent
22.01.2018 | Universität des Saarlandes

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Thanks for the memory: NIST takes a deep look at memristors

22.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

Radioactivity from oil and gas wastewater persists in Pennsylvania stream sediments

22.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

Saarland University bioinformaticians compute gene sequences inherited from each parent

22.01.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks Wissenschaft & Forschung
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>