This new research paves way for effective HIV vaccine

iThis new research paves way for effective HIV vaccine

Scientists at the University of California have discovered a new mechanism which paves way for the development of effective HIV vaccine. The study revealed that HIV Virus hides insides the infected CD4 cells in a latent state. Hence the virus escapes from the immune system and prevents the retroviral drugs from eliminating them. Current antiviral drugs can only target the active cells and cannot eliminate the latent or otherwise silent HIV cells. Scientists have long been struggling to develop an effective vaccine for the treatment of HIV. But none of the research until now have failed to do so even though many studies looked promising.

What happens during HIV infection?

In HIV infected patient the virus actively multiplies inside CD4 cells using them as factories to generate more virus. The viral RNA gets integrated into cellular DNA and again converted into m-RNA by a process reverse transcription. The RNA is then packed inside protein coats and released as a new virus. However few of the infected cells remain dormant for decades. Current anti-retroviral therapies can only target the latent cells, and once activated by natural stimuli these cells are reactivated. Even though the current drugs can keep the virus dormant, but the virus multiplies once the patient has stopped taking the drugs.


Current Research:

If we know the mechanism by which the infected cells remain silent, then it paves the way for the development of therapies to awaken them or completely silence them. Keeping this in view the team decided to examine the cells from 18 HIV patients. Initially, researchers suspected that virus did not replicate inside CD4 cells. But to their surprise, they found many partially converted RNA’s of different sizes. By activating the latent cells and facilitating transcription to take place it would be easier to be recognised by the immune system. However, none of the available drugs has the ability to activate the latent cells.

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If drugs are developed that facilitate viral RNA to complete its cycle then they can be easily recognised by the body and eliminated. Researchers have tested various latency-reversing agents in the lab but they have not used in the clinic. These agents were found to activate various stages of RNA development. By using various combinations of these agents may help to make complete viral RNA and can be targeted by drugs for effective elimination of the virus.

The Research is published in Science Translational Medicine.


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About Sekhar. M

Always on the move with the latest happenings in the field of technology and health. When I am not writing, you can find me listening to the latest chartbusters. Also being a sports geek, I always keep a close eye on all the latest happenings.
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