There are currently 38 million people worldwide living with HIV , and an estimated 36 million have died from HIV-related illnesses in the decades since HIV began to circulate, according to UNAIDS.
People with HIV take antiretroviral drugs to keep the virus at bay. But HIV has the ability to evade antiretrovirals by lying dormant on cells called CD4+ T cells, which signal another type of T cell, CD8, to kill HIV-infected cells. If treatment is stopped, the virus emerges from these reservoirs and replicates in the body, weakening the immune system and increasing the chance of infections or cancers that can lead to illness or even death.
Now, new research that improves a method developed in 2017 designed to kill HIV-infected cells has, in an experiment with mice, achieved that a good percentage of previously inactive cells that began expressing HIV died within 24 days. hours.
‘kick and kill’
This method, baptized as “ kick and kill ” is based on finding ways to rip the virus out of its cellular hiding place and destroy it. Previous studies have found promising results using immunotherapy, CRISPR gene editing, engineered stem cells, or silencing a particular RNA molecule.
In this work, the scientists administered a synthetic compound called SUW133 , which activates latent HIV and allows drugs to find and kill infected cells. So, while the mice were receiving antiretrovirals, the researchers used SUW133 to bring HIV-infected cells out of hiding. They then injected healthy natural killer cells into the mice’s blood to kill the infected cells. The combination of SUW133 and injections of healthy natural killer immune cells completely eliminated HIV in 40% of the HIV-infected mice.
“These findings show a proof of concept for a therapeutic strategy to potentially eliminate HIV from the body, a task that had been nearly insurmountable for many years,” said Jocelyn Kim, leader of the work.
The next goal will be to further refine the approach with further experiments to eliminate HIV in 100% of the mice. “We will also move this research towards preclinical studies in non-human primates with the ultimate goal of testing the same approach in humans”, clarify the authors who publish their study in the journal Nature Communications.
The study received funding from the National Institutes of Health, the American AIDS Research Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences UCLA CTSI Grant, the UCLA AIDS Research Center , the UCLA AIDS Institute and the McCarthy Family Foundation.
Referencia: Jocelyn T. Kim, Tian-Hao Zhang, Camille Carmona, Bryanna Lee, Christopher S. Seet, Matthew Kostelny, Nisarg Shah, Hongying Chen, Kylie Farrell, Mohamed S. A. Soliman, Melanie Dimapasoc, Michelle Sinani, Kenia Yazmin Reyna Blanco, David Bojorquez, Hong Jiang, Yuan Shi, Yushen Du, Natalia L. Komarova, Dominik Wodarz, Paul A. Wender, Matthew D. Marsden, Ren Sun, Jerome A. Zack. Latency reversal plus natural killer cells diminish HIV reservoir in vivo. Nature Communications, 2022; 13 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-27647-0