A new method for removing cells infected with the AIDS virus

October 2, 2017
The compound L-HIPPO is being used by researchers from Kumamoto University in Japan to eradicate HIV in viral reservoir cells. Credit: Mikako Fujita

With the successful suppression of the AIDS virus (HIV) through medication, the focus turns toward its eradication. Researchers from Kumamoto University in Japan have developed a new compound that is key to the destruction of HIV. When the compound is introduced into infected cells, viral budding (release) is suppressed thereby confining it within the host cells. The cells then die naturally through apoptosis (cell death). This treatment is believed to lead to the complete recovery from AIDS in the near future.

In recent years, multi-drug therapy has made it possible to suppress HIV multiplication in the body when taken properly. This method, however, cannot remove the of the latent HIV reservoir—non-replicating virus particles that remain dormant in the of the body. As soon as drug administration is stopped, the will again increase in the body. Removal of the viral reservoir is currently the top goal in AIDS research.

The "kick and kill" approach, which was developed several years ago, is a strategy for killing reservoir cells. This technique uses a drug that targets the reservoir cells and activates the virus which then allows the immune system to find these cell using the activated virus as a landmark. Although this approach was clinically tested, there is still the problem of not being able to efficiently deactivate the virus after successful activation.

Researchers at Kumamoto University developed a new approach that they call "Lock-in and apoptosis." First, they synthesized the compound L-HIPPO, which binds strongly to the HIV protein Pr55Gag and suppresses viral budding. When L-HIPPO was added to virus- via a carrier called α-CDE, the virus became confined within the cell and the cell would die through natural apoptosis.

"Unfortunately, this approach is not immediately available for people infected with HIV," said Associate Professor Mikako Fujita of Kumamoto University, one of the leaders of the study. "First, we have to improve upon the drugs that activate the virus and combine them with L-HIPPO to efficiently target the viral reservoir. This would be a big step towards a complete recovery from HIV. We believe that our research will help to completely eradicate AIDS."

L-HIPPO is carried into a cell, with the help of the carrier α-CDE, where it binds strongly to the HIV protein Pr55Gag. This locks HIV virus inside the cell so that it cannot escape via viral budding. The virus is eventually destroyed through apoptosis. Credit: Mikako Fujita

Explore further: Scientists zoom in on AIDS virus hideout

More information: Hiroshi Tateishi et al, A clue to unprecedented strategy to HIV eradication: "Lock-in and apoptosis", Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-09129-w

Related Stories

Scientists zoom in on AIDS virus hideout

March 15, 2017
French scientists said Wednesday they had found a way to pinpoint elusive white blood cells which provide a hideout for the AIDS virus in people taking anti-HIV drugs.

Targeting HIV 'reservoir' could be first step to understanding how to cure the disease

December 1, 2015
A new clinical trial will test whether it is possible to destroy hidden reservoirs of HIV virus that are a key obstacle to curing the disease.

Designed drug candidate significantly reduces HIV reactivation rate

July 8, 2015
HIV-infected patients remain on antiretroviral therapy for life because the virus survives over the long-term in infected dormant cells. Interruption of current types of antiretroviral therapy results in a rebound of the ...

Cancer drug promises to break down barrier to HIV cure

September 18, 2015
Researchers have found a promising way of kicking the AIDS virus out of its hiding place in infected cells, potentially removing the main obstacle to curing HIV.

Researchers identify a new HIV reservoir

April 17, 2017
HIV cure research to date has focused on clearing the virus from T cells, a type of white blood cell that is an essential part of the immune system. Yet investigators in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University ...

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 ...

Recommended for you

Scientists find where HIV 'hides' to evade detection by the immune system

October 19, 2017
In a decades-long game of hide and seek, scientists from Sydney's Westmead Institute for Medical Research have confirmed for the very first time the specific immune memory T-cells where infectious HIV 'hides' in the human ...

National roll-out of PrEP HIV prevention drug would be cost-effective

October 18, 2017
Providing pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication to men who have sex with men who are at high risk of HIV infection (equivalent to less than 5% of men who have sex with men at any point in time) in England would be cost-effective, ...

Regulatory T cells harbor HIV/SIV virus during antiviral drug treatment

October 17, 2017
Scientists at Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University have identified an additional part of the HIV reservoir, immune cells that survive and harbor the virus despite long-term treatment with antiviral drugs.

New research opens the door to 'functional cure' for HIV

October 17, 2017
In findings that open the door to a completely different approach to curing HIV infections, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have for the first time shown that a novel compound effectively ...

Researchers create molecule that could 'kick and kill' HIV

October 5, 2017
Current anti-AIDS drugs are highly effective at making HIV undetectable and allowing people with the virus to live longer, healthier lives. The treatments, a class of medications called antiretroviral therapy, also greatly ...

A sixth of new HIV patients in Europe 50 or older: study

September 27, 2017
People aged 50 and older comprise a growing percentage of HIV patients in Europe, accounting for one in six new cases in 2015, researchers said Wednesday.

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.