New target to fight HIV infection identified

October 1, 2013

A mutant of an immune cell protein called ADAP (adhesion and degranulation-promoting adaptor protein) is able to block infection by HIV-1 (human immunodeficiency virus 1), new University of Cambridge research reveals. The researchers, who were funded by the Wellcome Trust, believe that their discovery will lead to new ways of combatting HIV.

Professor Chris Rudd from the Department of Pathology, who led the research, said: "One exciting aspect about this new target for HIV intervention is that we should be able to fight HIV without compromising the immune system's ability to battle infections."

HIV infections cause a severe and selective depletion of T-cells, a type of white blood cell that plays a major role in the immune system. Infections result when the HIV enters T-cells of the immune system by binding to the surface receptor CD4. Once it enters the cell, it replicates or reproduces itself rapidly, and then spreads to other T-cells by releasing the virus. This spread can occur between an infected T-cell and an uninfected attached T-cell. The researchers found that an ADAP mutant is able to interfere with HIV-1 infection by targeting two events, by reducing the replication of the virus, and the contact between infected and uninfected T-cells.

Professor Rudd added: "The ADAP mutant is potent in its interference of HIV-1 transmission because it targets simultaneously two critical events, viral replication and the spread of the virus from one T-cell to another. One therapeutic possibility is the reconstitution of infected individuals with T-cells expressing the mutant that are relatively resistant to HIV infection and which can react against the virus."

According the World Health Organisation, there are currently 35.3 million people living with HIV. Although the number of new HIV infections has dropped, it remains a major global public health issue. In the past three decades, it has killed more than 25 million people.

Explore further: Harnessing immune cells' adaptability to design an effective HIV vaccine

More information: The paper 'Immune adaptor ADAP in T cells regulates HIV-1 transcription and cell-cell viral spread via different co-receptors' is published in the journal BioMed Central www.retrovirology.com/content/10/1/101

Related Stories

Scientists discover how HIV kills immune cells

June 5, 2013

Untreated HIV infection destroys a person's immune system by killing infection-fighting cells, but precisely when and how HIV wreaks this destruction has been a mystery until now. New research by scientists at the National ...

New HIV-1 replication pathway discovered

September 18, 2013

Current drug treatments for HIV work well to keep patients from developing AIDS, but no one has found a way to entirely eliminate the virus from the human body, so patients continue to require lifelong treatment to prevent ...

Cocaine use may increase HIV vulnerability

September 30, 2013

In many ways, the spread of HIV has been fueled by substance abuse. Shared needles and drug users' high-risk sexual behaviors are just some of the ways that narcotics such as cocaine have played a key role in the AIDS epidemic ...

Recommended for you

Targeting HIV in semen to shut down AIDS

August 18, 2015

There may be two new ways to fight AIDS—using a heat shock protein or a small molecule - to attack fibrils in semen associated with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) during the initial phases of infection, according ...

Vitamin D status related to immune response to HIV-1

June 15, 2015

Vitamin D plays an important part in the human immune response and deficiency can leave individuals less able to fight infections like HIV-1. Now an international team of researchers has found that high-dose vitamin D supplementation ...

HVTN 505 vaccine induced antibodies nonspecific for HIV

July 30, 2015

A study by researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Duke University helps explain why the candidate vaccine used in the HVTN 505 clinical trial was not protective against HIV infection ...

Why HIV's cloak has a long tail

June 2, 2015

Virologists at Emory University School of Medicine, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta have uncovered a critical detail explaining how HIV assembles its infectious yet stealthy clothing.

0 comments

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.