Researchers make progress in eradicating HIV reservoirs
Traditional antiretroviral therapies for HIV were designed to maintain control over the virus to stop AIDS progression. Because the treatment cannot eradicate the reservoirs of HIV and end the infection, the patients must sustain these treatments throughout their lives. This means patients must also live with side effects of chronic inflammation and drugs.
Now, scientists have developed molecules that can target cells infected with HIV as well as killer T cells. These cells are comprised of the viral envelop protein, and eliminating these cells may help to eliminate the rest of the cells infected with HIV, effectively decreasing detectable HIV expression.
These engineered molecules are bi-specific and called Dual-Affinity Re-Targeting (DART). They have two arms that are used to bind to the HIV’s enveloping proteins as well as to a molecule that is part of killer T cells. DART cells can recruit and therefore activate a variety of killer T cells, launching a broad attack on the HIV reservoirs.
This new “kick and kill” method uses pharmacologic activation for latent HIV infections to create infected cells that the immune system will recognize to provoke the immune system’s response: killing HIV.