"Mother-to-infant transmission of HIV is a tremendous worldwide problem, especially in several African nations," said Nancy Haigwood, Ph.D., researcher and director of the Oregon National Primate Research Center at OHSU.
According to the latest data from the World Health Organization, 33.4 million people were infected by the virus in 2008. About 67 percent of the world's infections are in African countries. In addition, 91 percent of the world's childhood infections are in Africa.
Haigwood, her colleagues at OHSU, along with researchers at the University of Washington are investigating strategies for preventing or countering HIV infections in babies born to women with HIV. Their strategy: to educate part of the baby's immune system within the first few hours of birth to better fight of the disease.
"HIV attacks and kills T-cells, the white blood cells that play an important role in the immune system because they have the ability to identify and destroy disease invaders. By attacking the body's natural defenses, the disease progresses, causes AIDS and eventually death," explained Haigwood. "Therefore, many therapies focus on protecting T-cells."
However, Haigwood and her colleagues took a different approach. They focused on another component of the immune system, which was initially thought to play a lesser role in the body's defense against HIV. Babies born to HIV-infected mothers have HIV-specific neutralizing antibodies at the time of birth that are "passively" acquired across the placenta. They wanted to determine whether boosted neutralizing antibody levels would weaken the disease's ability to overtake the body's defenses.
To investigate this possible treatment, the researchers studied three small groups of infant monkeys. The first group was given additional antibodies derived from healthy mothers. The second group was given antibodies matched to simian/human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV). SHIV is a hybrid virus used in research to ensure that results translate between species. The third group of animals was provided with HIV antibodies similar to, but not exactly matching, the strain of infection they would receive. The three groups were then exposed to SHIV and their immune systems were subsequently monitored.
Unlike the other two groups, the "HIV-matched" animals were better protected from the virus. They developed higher levels of neutralizing antibodies and, had lower levels of SHIV in their blood plasma than the comparison groups six months post-infection. In addition they maintained their CD4+ T cells ¨C another component of the immune system.
The study also provided insights into the level of antibodies needed to impact disease progression. For this study, the antibody levels were relatively low dosed. Previously, antibodies were shown to block infection in animal models. This study demonstrated, for the first time, that very low levels of antibodies þu too low to block infection þu can influence disease progression in this setting and stimulate an immune response that contributes to viral control in the absence of drug treatment.
In future studies, the researchers hope to learn whether higher doses of antibodies translate into greater protection for the infants.
"This research demonstrates that boosting the body's HIV antibodies þuby a time-honored method of passive transfer that would use new HIV-specific human monoclonal antibodies þu may be a strategy for reducing infection levels and protecting CD4+ T cells in newborn children," said Haigwood. "While the treatment would not likely prevent infection, it could limit the levels of infection in children which would greatly reduce suffering and extend lives."
The National Institutes of Health and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation funded this research.
The ONPRC is a registered research institution, inspected regularly by the United States Department of Agriculture. It operates in compliance with the Animal Welfare Act and has an assurance of regulatory compliance on file with the National Institutes of Health. The ONPRC also participates in the voluntary accreditation program overseen by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC).
Oregon Health & Science University is the state's only health and research university, and only academic health center. As Portland's largest employer and the fourth largest in Oregon (excluding government), OHSU's size contributes to its ability to provide many services and community support activities not found anywhere else in the state. It serves more than 184,000 patients, and is a conduit for learning for more than 3,900 students and trainees. OHSU is the source of more than 200 community outreach programs that bring health and education services to each county in the state.
Jim Newman | EurekAlert!
The end of pneumonia? New vaccine offers hope
23.10.2017 | University at Buffalo
Scientists track ovarian cancers to site of origin: Fallopian tubes
23.10.2017 | Johns Hopkins Medicine
Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
23.10.2017 | Event News
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
23.10.2017 | Life Sciences
23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine