Reservoir explorers find extra HIV/SIV pond

Scientists at Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University have identified an additional part of the HIV reservoir, immune cells that survive and harbor the virus despite long-term treatment with antiviral drugs. Their findings were published online in Immunity.

The cells display a molecule called CTLA4, the target of an FDA-approved cancer immunotherapy drug, ipilimumab. This information should help those trying to eradicate HIV from the body.

Researchers led by Mirko Paiardini, PhD, infected macaques with HIV's relative SIV and treated them with standard antiviral drugs similar to what humans receive for HIV. At the time of analysis, almost all the animals (8 out of 9) showed undetectable SIV in their blood. The team probed for CD4+ memory T cells, which are known to shelter persistent virus.

Paiardini is associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and Yerkes National Primate Research Center and part of Emory Vaccine Center. Guido Silvestri, MD, division chief of microbiology and immunology at Yerkes and a Georgia Research Eminent Scholar, is a co-author. Both Drs. Paiardini and Silvestri are also faculty members in the IMP program.

One of the co-first authors of the paper is Colleen McGary, PhD, former Immunology and Molecular Pathogenesis graduate student.

Click here to view the full story in the Emory News Center.