May 14, 2003
"Our work is geared toward finding a way to obliterate this latent pool, which would take us closer to actually finding a cure for AIDS," said senior author Eric Verdin, MD, senior investigator at Gladstone and a University of California-San Francisco professor of medicine.
The researchers constructed a recombinant HIV strain carrying a green fluorescent protein. Using this marker, they identified a small fraction of infected cells in which the virus was latent. These cells represented less than 1 percent of the infected population and had eluded purification until this study.
The Gladstone researchers found that, in latently infected cells, the HIV genome is integrated into transcriptionally inactive regions of DNA called heterochromatin. Verdin and colleagues are trying to identify drugs that can activate latent cells and cause them to produce virus. A preliminary screen identified a number of compounds that can reactivate latent HIV in the laboratory.