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Engineering SIV to Spare the CD4 T Cell Help

Selected Research Highlight From CROI 2013

March 25, 2013

Adrienne Swanstrom from the University of Pennsylvania described a novel approach to defining the role of infection of CD4 T cells in SIV pathogenesis, using an engineered version of the highly pathogenic SIVmac239 -- named iMac-ΔD385 -- that does not bind the CD4 molecule (abstract, webcast -- seventh in session). In a preliminary experiment involving just two macaques, Swanstrom found that the modified virus replicated to levels comparable to the wild-type SIVmac239 during acute infection and targeted a variety of non-CD4 cell types, but was then robustly controlled by the immune response. Strong neutralizing antibody responses were detected, which is unusual in pathogenic SIV infection, and ongoing work is now looking at CD8 T-cell responses. The findings, at least so far, suggest that sparing CD4 T-cell help led to more effective CD4 T cell–dependent immune responses and superior control of SIV replication.

Richard Jefferys is the coordinator of the Michael Palm HIV Basic Science, Vaccines & Prevention Project Weblog at the Treatment Action Group (TAG). The original blog post may be viewed here.

This article was provided by Treatment Action Group. It is a part of the publication Michael Palm HIV Basic Science, Vaccines & Cure Project.

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