Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UCLA scientists invent search-and-destroy method to flush HIV out of hiding places in body

17.09.2003


UCLA AIDS Institute scientists have devised a new technique to switch on and drive hibernating HIV from its hiding places in the body. Reported in the September issue of Immunity, the research suggests a possible therapeutic strategy to kill the hidden virus so people who are HIV-positive could eventually stop taking antiretroviral medications.



"Our findings show potential for flushing HIV out of its hiding places in the body," said Dr. Jerome Zack, principal investigator and associate director of basic sciences for the UCLA AIDS Institute. "If our method proves successful, it may enable HIV-infected individuals to discontinue costly and complex antiretroviral therapy, which can cause serious side effects."

"Immune cells can’t kill HIV if they can’t detect it," said Dr. David Brooks, a postdoctoral fellow and lead author of the study. "By switching on an HIV-positive person’s dormant virus, we hope to enable the immune system to recognize and eradicate HIV-infected cells before they spread more virus."


Antiretroviral drugs kill HIV, often depleting the virus to undetectable levels in the blood of people taking the medications. This treatment alone, however, cannot completely eliminate HIV infection from the body.

Latent, or hibernating HIV, still hides in resting T-cells, which quietly lie in wait for a foreign particle to invade the immune system. When a foreign invasion occurs, the event activates some of the T-cells, which promptly begin manufacturing virus. And, when an HIV-infected person discontinues antiretroviral drugs, this small reservoir of latently infected T-cells can rekindle the spread of HIV infection throughout the body.

"About one in a million T-cells holds latent HIV that the antiretroviral drugs can’t touch," said Zack, a professor of medicine and vice chair of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "Our challenge was to make latent HIV vulnerable to treatment without harming healthy cells."

The UCLA researchers created a model using mice specially bred without immune systems. The team implanted the mice with human thymus tissue and then infected the tissue with HIV. The mice responded by producing human T-cells infected with latent HIV.

Zack and Brooks next used a two-step approach to expose and destroy latent HIV. First, they stimulated the T-cells strongly enough to prompt the cell to express latent virus but not to trigger other cellular functions. This revealed the hidden HIV.

Second, they used a new weapon called an immunotoxin -- an anti-HIV antibody genetically fused with a bacterial toxin -- to target and kill only the T-cells infected with HIV.

"The immunotoxin functions like a smart bomb -- the antibody is the missile guidance system and the toxin is the explosive," Zack said. "When the T-cell switches on and starts expressing virus, the antibody binds to the surface of the T-cell, forcing the toxin into the cell and killing it. This prevents the cell from making more virus."

"The beauty of this approach is that it doesn’t destroy healthy T-cells -- only the ones hiding virus," Brooks said.

Prior to the UCLA discovery, scientists needed to over-stimulate T-cells to force them to express latent virus. This ran the risk of harming the patient by impairing the entire immune system.

In contrast, the UCLA model exposed and killed hidden HIV without affecting the rest of the immune system. The T-cells in the UCLA model also did not divide, indicating that they were able to produce virus without behaving as if they were confronting a foreign particle.

"In our mouse model, the two-step approach cleared out nearly 80 percent of the latently infected T-cells," said Zack. "No one has ever been able to achieve this before. We hope that the strategy we’ve proven effective in the lab will show similar success in people."

Zack and Brooks envision the two-step approach working as a supplement to antiretroviral therapy, and are planning studies on more complex models before progressing to human clinical trials.

"We propose that HIV-infected individuals could use the two-step approach while they take antiretroviral drugs. The medications would stop replication of any virus that the immunotoxin missed," said Brooks. "After the toxin rids the body of all latent HIV, the patient may be able to safely discontinue antiretroviral therapy."

In another possible scenario, physicians might first administer a therapeutic vaccine to enhance the ability of the patient’s T-cells to kill HIV-infected cells. This would help the two-step approach rid the body of latent virus more efficiently.


The National Institutes of Health, American Foundation for AIDS Research and the Universitywide AIDS Research Program funded the study. Co-authors included Dean Hamer, the National Cancer Institute; Philip Arlen, Greg Bristol, Lianying Gao and Christina Kitchen, UCLA; and Edward Berger, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

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

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht A 'half-hearted' solution to one-sided heart failure
24.11.2017 | Boston Children's Hospital

nachricht New study points the way to therapy for rare cancer that targets the young
22.11.2017 | Rockefeller University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New proton record: Researchers measure magnetic moment with greatest possible precision

High-precision measurement of the g-factor eleven times more precise than before / Results indicate a strong similarity between protons and antiprotons

The magnetic moment of an individual proton is inconceivably small, but can still be quantified. The basis for undertaking this measurement was laid over ten...

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

IceCube experiment finds Earth can block high-energy particles from nuclear reactions

24.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 'half-hearted' solution to one-sided heart failure

24.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

Heidelberg Researchers Study Unique Underwater Stalactites

24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>