"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!
Why might reading make myopic?
18.07.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Tübingen
Unique brain 'fingerprint' can predict drug effectiveness
11.07.2018 | McGill University
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
18.07.2018 | Life Sciences
18.07.2018 | Materials Sciences
18.07.2018 | Health and Medicine