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: CRISPR screening identifies potential HIV treatment targets

Related Stories

CRISPR screening identifies potential HIV treatment targets

December 19, 2016

Investigators from Whitehead Institute, the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard have used CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology to identify three promising new targets for treatment ...

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

First drug-resistant malaria parasite detected in Africa

February 22, 2017

For the first time in Africa, researchers said Wednesday they have detected a malaria parasite that is partially resistant to the top anti-malaria drug, artemisinin, raising concern about efforts to fight a disease that ...

OCD-like behavior linked to genetic mutation

February 22, 2017

A new Northwestern Medicine study found evidence suggesting how neural dysfunction in a certain region of the brain can lead to obsessive and repetitive behaviors much like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Transplanting good bacteria to kill Staph

February 22, 2017

Healthy human skin is alive with bacteria. In fact, there are more microorganisms living in and on the human body than there are human cells. Most can live on the human skin without harming the host, but in some people bacteria ...

FDA urged to let abortion pill be sold at pharmacies

February 22, 2017

The so-called abortion pill—now dispensed only in clinics, hospitals and doctors' offices—should be made available by prescription in pharmacies across the U.S., according to a group of doctors and public health experts ...

In rare disorder, novel agent stops swelling before it starts

February 22, 2017

An early-stage clinical trial has found that, compared to a placebo, a novel medication significantly reduces potentially life-threatening episodes of swelling of the airway as well as the hands, feet, and abdomen of patients ...

Scientists survey the state of sleep science

February 22, 2017

Sleep remains an enduring biological mystery with major clinical relevance, according to a review by clinician-researcher Thomas Scammell, MD, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and colleagues. In recent decades, ...

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.