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January 23rd, 2019 by admin

L2 SPS Traduction 2

AIDS – Researchers from the Pasteur Institute destroy HIV reservoirs

A team from the Pasteur Institute in Paris has found a way to eliminate HIV reservoirs, paving the way for potential new treatments, but there is still a long way to go before the results, which were obtained using cell cultures, are used in humans.

Current HIV treatments need to be taken for life because antiretroviral drugs are not able to eliminate the viral reservoirs inside immune cells.   “Antiretroviral treatment will block the virus and act to prevent it from multiplying, but it cannot eliminate infected cells.  Here, our job involved characterizing infected cells and then eliminating them from an organism infected by HIV” explained leading researcher, Asier Saez-Cirion.

The Pasteur Institute team succeeded in identifying the characteristics of CD4 T lymphocytes, the immune cells targeted by HIV.  Their study shows that the virus will first infect cells with a high rate of metabolic activity.  This activity, and in particular a cell’s glucose consumption, plays a key role in infection: the virus diverts the energy and substances produced by the cell in order to replicate.  This requirement could be harnessed to attack reservoir cells.  The results are published in Cell Metabolism.

HIV infection blocked in cell cultures

The Pasteur researchers managed to block infection ex vivo (in cell cultures) thanks to metabolic inhibitors already used in oncology/cancerology.  “In our study we observed that those cells infected by HIV had (bio-)energetic characteristics similar to tumor cells, and we could therefore use the same tools” explained Dr Saez-Cirion.  The next step for the team at the Pasteur Institute will consist in “identifying the molecules which provide an optimal effect, after which pre-clinical trials on models will be undertaken, based on experience from current clinical trials on the treatment of certain types of cancer, in order to select molecules that are efficacious and well-tolerated by patients,” the researcher added.

This work is a step towards patient remission (no further detectable infected cells) thanks to the elimination of HIV reservoirs.  However, “it will be a few years until this approach can be properly tested in a phase 3 clinical trial which would give us an evaluation of its efficacy” Dr Saez-Cirion specified.