Researchers discuss challenges, successes of HIV cure research in science

July 21, 2016, University of North Carolina Health Care
David Margolis, MD, Professor of Medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and Principal Investigator of CARE. Credit: UNC School of Medicine

A better understanding of HIV latency is the key to eradicating the virus researchers at the University of North Carolina and partner institutions write in a perspective in the journal Science. Worldwide, 37 million people are living with HIV. A cure has proved elusive due to viral latency - a period when the virus remains alive, but dormant in body thereby eluding the immune system.

Based at UNC, the National Institutes of Health-funded Collaboratory of AIDS Researchers for Eradication (CARE) seeks to validate and implement their "kick and kill" strategy to cure HIV infection. This approach involves waking up the latent or sleeping virus in the body, and at the same time boost the immune system to recognize and clear the virus. In the Science perspective, the researchers discuss the gains they have made in understanding latency over the past five years and the challenges that remain as the team of academic and industry investigators—from UNC, Duke University, Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, the University of California at San Diego, Emory University, MacroGenics, and other institutions - embark on the next steps in HIV cure research.

"We have learned a lot, and made advances, and we hope that we now have the tools to begin to chip away at the persistent that remains in patients, and requires them to maintain lifelong antiviral drug therapy," said David Margolis, MD, Professor of Medicine at UNC and Principal Investigator of CARE.

The team has made tremendous strides in learning about latency reversing agents or LRAs. Four clinical studies have revealed that histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors are the most effective LRA for inducing cell-associated HIV-1 RNA. The investigators have also studied cells from people living with HIV and found that serial dosing of LRAs is needed to reverse latency.

Questions the group hopes to answer over the next five years include if LRAs will promote the expression of viral protein on the surface of infected cells, and if pairing LRAs with immune interventions will lead to the clearance of persistent, latent infection.

Explore further: Study observes potential breakthrough in treatment of HIV

More information: Latency reversal and viral clearance to cure HIV-1, Science 22 Jul 2016: Vol. 353, Issue 6297, DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf6517

Related Stories

Study observes potential breakthrough in treatment of HIV

June 17, 2016
A new study conducted by researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center (SFVAMC) observes that pharmacological enhancement of the immune systems of HIV patients could help eliminate infected cells, providing an important ...

Nowhere to hide: Treatment targets HIV's last hiding place

July 13, 2016
While HIV is no longer the death sentence it once was, we are yet to defeat it entirely. However, a new study from Oxford University offers hope that HIV will eventually have nowhere to hide. Tom Calver spoke to Professor ...

Sugar-binding protein galectin-9 found to be a new weapon to cure HIV

July 13, 2016
The ultimate impediment to a cure for HIV infection is the presence of latent, HIV-infected cells, which can reawaken and produce new virus when antiretroviral drug therapy is stopped. These latent, HIV-infected cells are ...

Identification of drug combinations that reverse HIV-1 latency

March 30, 2015
There are almost 40 million people throughout the world living with HIV-1/AIDs. While current antiretroviral therapies are able to reduce the amount of virus in the blood, HIV remains present in a latent state within T cells. ...

Drug firm announces advance in quest for HIV cure

December 22, 2015
A Norwegian drug firm on Tuesday announced an advance in its quest for an HIV cure with a drug combination which seeks to force the virus out of its hiding place and kill it.

Scientists reawaken sleeping HIV in patient cells to eliminate the virus

September 9, 2015
A consortium of investigators led by scientists at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) have found that a new class of drugs may be used to purge pockets of dormant HIV from a patient's body, eliminating ...

Recommended for you

Proof-of-concept HIV immunotherapy study passes Phase 1 safety trial

September 21, 2018
Preliminary results from a phase I clinical trial have demonstrated the safety and tolerability of a cell therapy involving the ex vivo expansion of T cells and their subsequent infusion into HIV-infected individuals previously ...

FRESH program combines basic science with social benefits for women at risk of HIV

September 14, 2018
A program established by investigators from the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), MIT and Harvard is addressing the persistently elevated risk of HIV infection among young women in South Africa from ...

New study finds HIV outbreak in Indiana could have been prevented

September 13, 2018
An HIV outbreak among people who inject drugs in Indiana from 2011 to 2015 could have been avoided if the state's top health and elected officials had acted sooner on warnings, a new study by the Yale School of Public Health ...

Largest study of 'post-treatment controllers' reveals clues about HIV remission

September 13, 2018
Most HIV patients need to take daily anti-retroviral therapy—if they suspend treatment, HIV will rebound within 3-4 weeks. But clinical trials have revealed that a small fraction of patients can stop taking medications ...

Very few sexually active gay and bisexual men use prophylactic drug to prevent HIV transmission, study finds

September 12, 2018
Only 4 percent of sexually active gay and bisexual men in the United States use Truvada, a highly effective medication used to prevent the transmission of HIV, according to the results of a first-of-its-kind study.

Special antibodies could lead to HIV vaccine

September 10, 2018
Around one percent of people infected with HIV produce antibodies that block most strains of the virus. These broadly acting antibodies provide the key to developing an effective vaccine against HIV. Researchers from the ...

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.