Medical News

Drugs Fail to "Wake Up" Dormant Reservoirs of HIV Inside Immune System T Cells

March 26, 2014

This article was reported by reported that researchers did not "wake up" dormant HIV reservoirs in immune system T cells in laboratory tests with white blood cells from HIV-positive individuals. Dormant HIV remains in an infected individual's immune cells even though the individual has an undetectable viral load. If the individual stops antiretroviral therapy (ART), the dormant cells reactivate. Researchers hope to reawaken the dormant cells while the patient is taking highly active ART and destroy the reservoir of cells to cure HIV.

Robert F. Siliciano, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, and colleagues compared drugs called HDAC inhibitors -- compounds that affect the genetic operation of viruses -- to determine which would be best at reviving HIV. The researchers used laboratory models of latent HIV-infected cells in previous tests of HDAC compounds. For this study, the researchers used a special process to obtain a large sample of white blood cells with latent HIV from HIV-positive individuals.

None of the HDAC inhibitors worked. The researchers noted that the results still were useful as they helped them develop more sensitive assays for use in further study of reviving the dormant virus and create a measure for judging future successes with other HDAC compounds or combinations of compounds. The researchers propose to study combinations of some of the compounds with patient-derived cells.

The full report, "New ex vivo Approaches Distinguish Effective and Ineffective Single Agents for Reversing HIV-1 Latency in vivo," was published online in the journal Nature Medicine (2014; doi:10.1038/nm.3489).

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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.

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