Discovery of an HIV reservoir marker: New avenue toward eliminating the virus


Scientists found a protein that flags up immune cells harbouring hidden pools of the AIDS-causing virus – one of the reasons a cure has remained elusive.  While current drugs can keep HIV at bay, a few cells remain infected, so HIV cannot be cured.

Roughly one in a million CD4 T cells in an individual receiving antiretroviral therapy is latently infected.  In lab experiments on the blood samples of 12 HIV patients his researchers analysed immune cells called CD4 T that produced a green fluorescent protein when they were infected.

This pinpointed the CD32a lymphocytes – white blood cells that protect the body from infection – that were only expressed on the surface of dormant HIV cells.

Virologist Dr Monsef Benkirane, of Montpellier University in France, said: ‘The persistence of the HIV reservoir in infected individuals is a major obstacle to the development of a cure for HIV-1.”

‘Our discovery…

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