Researchers find latent HIV reservoirs inherently resistant to elimination by CD8+ T-cells

January 22, 2018, George Washington University
Scanning electron micrograph of a human T lymphocyte (also called a T cell) from the immune system of a healthy donor. Credit: NIAID

The latest "kick-and-kill" research to eliminate the HIV virus uncovered a potential obstacle in finding a cure. A recent study by researchers at the George Washington University (GW) found that latent HIV reservoirs show resistance to CD8+ T-cells, a type of white blood cell whose primary function is to kill infected cells.

"We have identified a barrier," said Brad Jones, PhD, primary author of the study and assistant professor of microbiology, immunology, and tropical medicine at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences. "It is difficult to understand the nature of that barrier right now. We used our most powerful combinations against these , and when the dust settled we found that the virus was present at just as high levels as what we started with."

HIV/AIDS treatment currently includes is lifelong, antiretroviral therapy while the search for a cure continues. Persistent, latent reservoirs of the virus make efforts to cure infection difficult. In order to eradicate those HIV reservoirs, researchers must find a way to eliminate persistent populations of cells with integrated HIV proviruses. The "kick-and-kill" paradigm is aimed at combining latency reversing agents (LRA) with immune effectors, such as T-cells, to wake up the virus and kill the reactivated cells.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, found that latent HIV reservoirs exhibit inherent to CD8+ T-cells.

In contrast to other studies that used HIV models with engineered cells, the team at GW conducted their research using the CD8+ T-cells of people living with HIV, in combination with LRAs to attack and kill the infected cells.

The results suggest that cells infected by replication-competent HIV possess inherent resistance to the T-cells, which present an obstacle on the road to curing HIV.

However, Jones is optimistic about the future of HIV research and believes that the results of this study will help to improve researchers' understanding of how to approach the .

"While the results are certainly not what we hoped for, we have identified what might be an important barrier in killing HIV-infected cells," said Jones. "Now that we have a way to study it, there's reason to think that we might be able to have more success than previous studies."

His team will continue to work in hopes of understanding the reason for the resistance to CD8+ T-cells. They will also investigate different combination therapies, looking at those used for other conditions that may be effective in reducing HIV-.

The research article, "Latent HIV Reservoirs Exhibit Inherent Resistance to Elimination by CD8+ T-cells" is published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Explore further: Study observes potential breakthrough in treatment of HIV

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 ...

Gene therapy using CAR T-cells could provide long-term protection against HIV

December 28, 2017
Through gene therapy, researchers engineered blood-forming stem cells (hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells, or HSPCs) to carry chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) genes to make cells that can detect and destroy HIV-infected cells. ...

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. ...

Study reveals a new method to address a major barrier to eradicating HIV

May 10, 2017
Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes discovered that an enzyme called SMYD2 could be a new therapeutic target for flushing out the HIV that hides in infected individuals. Overcoming this latent virus remains the most significant ...

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 ...

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.

Recommended for you

HIV exports viral protein in cellular packages

February 15, 2018
HIV may be able to affect cells it can't directly infect by packaging a key protein within the host's cellular mail and sending it out into the body, according to a new study out of a University of North Carolina Lineberger ...

Can gene therapy be harnessed to fight the AIDS virus?

February 13, 2018
For more than a decade, the strongest AIDS drugs could not fully control Matt Chappell's HIV infection. Now his body controls it by itself, and researchers are trying to perfect the gene editing that made this possible.

Big data methods applied to the fitness landscape of the HIV envelope protein

February 7, 2018
Despite significant advances in medicine, there is still no effective vaccine for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), although recent hope has emerged through the discovery of antibodies capable of neutralizing diverse ...

Scientists report big improvements in HIV vaccine production

February 5, 2018
Research on HIV over the past decade has led to many promising ideas for vaccines to prevent infection by the AIDS virus, but very few candidate vaccines have been tested in clinical trials. One reason for this is the technical ...

Microbiome research refines HIV risk for women

January 25, 2018
Drawing from data collected for years by AIDS researchers in six African nations, scientists have pinpointed seven bacterial species whose presence in high concentrations may significantly increase the risk of HIV infection ...

Researchers find latent HIV reservoirs inherently resistant to elimination by CD8+ T-cells

January 22, 2018
The latest "kick-and-kill" research to eliminate the HIV virus uncovered a potential obstacle in finding a cure. A recent study by researchers at the George Washington University (GW) found that latent HIV reservoirs show ...

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.