Defective HIV Proviruses Prevent Immune Possible Cure, John Hopkins Scientists Suggest
Proteins created by broken forms of HIV previously believed to be harmless interact with the immune system and are actively controlled by a particular type of immune cell, called cytotoxic T-cells, researchers at Johns Hopkins and George Washington universities report a new evidence.
The researchers state their experiments explain that while defective HIV proviruses — the viral genetic material — cannot produce functional infectious HIV particles, a specific subset called «hypermutated» HIV proviruses creates proteins that cytotoxic T-cells identify as HIV. The experiment has been conducted on laboratory-grown human cells and published April 12 in the Cell Host and Microbe Journal.
HIV proviruses can outnumber functional HIV 1000 copies to one, and the broken proteins they produce can hinder attempts to measure a patient’s viral load, exhaust immune systems, guard functional HIV against attack by common means or drugs, and severely hamper the development of a cure. The investigators think that if they can utilize the «hypermutated» form of these proviruses, it could benefit them eliminate more of the broken HIV proviruses and develop a cure for HIV infection.
«The virus has a lot of ways, even in its defective forms, to distract our immune systems, and to understand how they do this is essential in finding a cure,» replies the lead study investigator Ya Chi Ho, M.D., Ph.D., instructor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.