Researchers develop protein to reduce HIV reservoir
This protein may be crucial to developing a cure for HIV, as many patients have reservoirs of cells infected with long-lived, latent HIV. When the patient stops accepting anti-HIV drugs, the virus resurfaces again.
The scientists will continue to conduct studies about the possibilities of this protein in trials involving humans as well as animals.
The protein, called VRC07-CD3, activates and then kills T cells that are infected with latent HIV. The scientists gathered these cells from patients who are currently taking antiretroviral therapy treatments. The researchers incubated the cells in the lab along with killer T cells from the patients.
Versions of the protein that have been adapted to monkeys have proved to be well-tolerated and safe when the monkeys were also infected with HIV in a simian form along with antiretroviral therapy. Next, the scientists plan to study the monkey-adapted VRC07-CD3’s effectiveness in other animals.
The specially engineered protein has two ends that bind to surfaces. The first binds to a CD3 receptor molecule in order to activate T cells. The second binds to over 90 percent of HIV strains using a VR07 antibody.