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10 March 2018, 13:54
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Find and destroy. Where and how is HIV concealed and why is it so important to catch it from there

Find and destroy. Where and how is HIV concealed and why is it so important to catch it from there - picture 1

The human immunodeficiency virus is known to have a secret life. Modern antiretroviral therapy can suppress the reproduction of the virus in the body, bringing the viral load to zero, but it cannot “purify” the body from HIV completely. Virus sits in "hidden reservoirs" and becomes invisible to the immune system. When a patient stops taking therapy, HIV again "wakes up" and begins to reproduce. Therefore, to date, ARV therapy is prescribed for life, so that HIV infection has passed from the category of fatal to chronic diseases.

Researchers have devoted years to deciphering the mechanisms that help HIV hide in the human body and find ways to reverse this process.

So, one of the latest studies in the US, explains what might be the key to making HIV come out of hiding and become susceptible to anti-HIV drugs. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, scientists focused on crotonylation, an epigenetic mechanism that governs gene expression.

"We examined well-characterized cell models of HIV latency and immune cells from HIV patients who had been undergoing antiretroviral therapy and had undetectable viral loads," Dandekar said, one of the researchers. "In those samples, we were able to disrupt the HIV silencing by inducing histone crotonylation."

Prior to this, Japanese scientists proposed an alternative approach to the destruction of HIV in hidden reservoirs that they call "Lock-in and apoptosis.". 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-infected cells via a carrier called α-CDE, the virus became confined within the cell and the cell would die through natural apoptosis.

A year later another group of scientists discovered that a CD32a protein hangs out on the surface of T cells with a latent HIV infection, but is not found on uninfected T cells, or even T cells with active HIV. Having CD32a as a biomarker for HIV reservoirs means scientists have a better chance to track them down in a patient's blood.

Author: Lilia Ten