Advertisement
Advertisement

Read Now: News and Research From IDWeek 2014

Medical News

Revealed: Secret of HIV's Natural Born Killers

June 18, 2012

A tiny minority of people, about one in 300, can keep HIV from progressing to AIDS without drugs. In such "elite controllers," the virus is kept in check with "killer" cytotoxic T lymphocyte cells, earlier research has shown. In a new study, investigators found that elite controllers differ from others with HIV in how well these killer cells work, not in how many cells they have. In particular, the effective strain has receptors that are better able to identify HIV-infected white blood cells for attack.

People with HIV "have tons of these killer cells," said Bruce Walker, an infectious-diseases expert at the Ragon Institute in Massachusetts. "We have been scratching our heads since then, asking how, with so many killer cells around, people are getting AIDS. It turns out there is a special quality that makes [some cells] better at killing."

Walker and colleagues examined 10 people with HIV: five who took antiretroviral therapy to control the virus, and five elite controllers who were naturally healthy.

"What we found was that the way the killer cells are able to see infected cells and engage them was different," Walker said. "It is not just that you need a killer cell, what you need is a killer cell with a [T cell] receptor that is particularly good at recognizing the infected cell. This gives us a way to understand what it is that makes a really good killer cell."

Generating such cells, however, remains problematic for researchers. "The next step is to determine what it is about those receptors that is endowing them with that ability," said Walker. "Each secret that HIV reveals is putting us in a better position to ultimately make a vaccine to control the virus."

[PNU editor's note: The study, "TCR Clonotypes Modulate the Protective Effect of HLA Class I Molecules in HIV-1 Infection," was published in Nature Immunology (2012;doi:10.1038/ni.2342).]

Back to other news for June 2012

Adapted from:
Agence France Presse
06.10.2012




This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 

 

Add Your Comment:
(Please note: Your name and comment will be public, and may even show up in
Internet search results. Be careful when providing personal information! Before
adding your comment, please read TheBody.com's Comment Policy.)

Your Name:


Your Location:

(ex: San Francisco, CA)

Your Comment:

Characters remaining:

Advertisement