Immune system's HIV troubles discovered

August 22, 2006

Scientists at Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital say they have discovered why the immune system cannot fight the HIV virus.

Bruce Walker, head of the Boston team, said the body's virus-attacking T-cells are turned off by certain diseases including human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS, CBS News reported Tuesday.

"One hypothesis has been that they become inactivated. One hypothesis is that that they became destroyed," Walker said. "What this study shows us is actually that those cells are there, that they fully function; it's just that they have been turned off."

He said HIV activates a molecular switch in the cells that turns them off, but he and his team were able to reactive the cells in a laboratory setting. He said the process might someday help fight HIV, cancer and Hepatitis C.

"We really don't know what happens when we try this with humans," Walker says. "But it opens a new pathway for us to pursue. But we really need to proceed with caution."

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Natural HIV control may rely on sequence of T cell receptor protein

Related Stories

Bringing a new perspective to infectious disease

February 8, 2013

Studying infectious diseases has long been primarily the domain of biologists. However, as part of the Ragon Institute, MIT engineers and physical scientists are joining immunologists and physicians in the battle against ...

Revealed: Secret of HIV's natural born killers

June 10, 2012

Scientists on Sunday said they had found a key piece in the puzzle as to why a tiny minority of individuals infected with HIV have a natural ability to fight off the deadly AIDS virus.

Study offers new way to discover HIV vaccine targets

March 21, 2013

Decades of research and three large-scale clinical trials have so far failed to yield an effective HIV vaccine, in large part because the virus evolves so rapidly that it can evade any vaccine-induced immune response.

Recommended for you


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.