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20 March 2017, 07:23
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Lurking HIV Detected in a Major Biomarker Discovery

Lurking HIV Detected in a Major Biomarker Discovery - picture 1

A unique protein that gives away the presence of inactive HIV in the body has been discovered by a team scientists from the University of Montpellier in France.

According to the article in Nature, researchers achieved a significant milestone in HIV research by identifying a biomarker that exists only on the surface of T cells where the latent virus hides.

"Since 1996, the dream has been to kill these nasty cells in hiding, but we had no way to do it because we had no way to recognise them," a lead researcher, Monsef Benkirane, says.

His team 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. This paves the way for more research into the mechanisms that allow HIV to create such reservoirs in the first place.