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HIV Basic Science

HIV May Damage Gut and Trigger Inflammation Within Days of Infection

An HIV-like simian virus disrupted the gut lining within 3 days after infection, due to an inflammatory response initiated by Paneth cells that produce interleukin 1-beta (IL-1β), according to a report in the August 28 issue of PLoS Pathogens. Certain beneficial gut bacteria, however, appeared to reduce the damage.

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Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies May Prevent Reservoir HIV from Entering T-Cells

HIV-specific broadly neutralizing antibodies may be able to prevent virus emerging from latent reservoir sites from entering CD4 T-cells, as well as suppressing viral replication if HIV does manage to get in, according to NIAID research published in the August 25 advance edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Researchers Find New Toxic Weapon Against HIV in Mouse Study

Researchers have developed a targeted cytotoxin, or cell-toxic agent, to kill HIV that persists in various tissue reservoirs despite antiretroviral therapy, according to a report in the January 9, 2014, issue of PLoS Pathogens.

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Gut Microorganisms May Play a Role in HIV Response

Antibodies in people with HIV that target the virus's gp41 envelope protein can cross-react with normal intestinal bacteria, helping to explain why these antibodies are not effective in controlling HIV infection, according to research published in the August 13 edition of Cell Host & Microbe.

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HIV Triggers CD4 T-Cell Death via Inflammation

HIV infection sets off a vicious cycle of inflammation and cell death dubbed "pyroptosis" -- or fiery cell suicide -- according to a pair of recent reports from researchers at UCSF's Gladstone Institutes.

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Kidney Drug Sevelamer May Reduce Gut Leakage During Acute HIV Infection

The phosphate-binding agent sevelamer can bind to bacterial toxins and reduce excessive immune activation in macaque monkeys with a simian virus similar to HIV, according to a report in the June 2 Journal of Clinical Investigation. A related study, however, failed to see a reduction in inflammation biomarkers in people with untreated HIV disease.

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New HIV Strain May Lead to Faster Disease Progression

A newly identified natural recombinant form of HIV, dubbed A3/02, was associated with nearly a 3-fold higher risk of progression to AIDS and AIDS-related death -- as well as a shorter time from seroconversion to AIDS or death --compared with 2 more common types found in West Africa, researchers reported in the August 9 advance edition of the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

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Coral Proteins Block HIV from Entering Cells, May Be Useful in Microbicides

A set of proteins derived from soft coral identified from a National Cancer Institute repository of biological chemicals can bind to HIV and prevent it entering immune cells, suggesting it may have potential for use in microbicide gels or other products to prevent transmission of the virus, according to a poster presented at the Experimental Biology 2014 meeting last week in San Diego.

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Researchers Reveal Structure of HIV Envelope Protein Used to Enter Cells

Scientists have created a sturdier version of HIV's envelope protein, known as Env, which they used to determine a more complete picture of its overall architecture, the National Institutes of Health announced this week. Better understanding of the protein's structure could aid in the development of HIV vaccines or entry inhibitor drugs.

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Inherited Low Cholesterol in Immune Cells Linked to Slower HIV Disease Progression

A genetic variation linked to lower levels of intracellular cholesterol is associated with reduced transmission of HIV between immune cells, which may contribute to slower evolution of disease in non-progressors, according to a report in the April 29, 2014, edition of the electronic journal mBio, published by the American Society for Microbiology.

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Changes in Gut Bacteria May Promote Inflammation and HIV Disease Progression

Changes in intestinal bacteria may contribute to disease progression and development of non-AIDS conditions in people with HIV, even those on effective antiretroviral therapy (ART), according to a report in the July 10, 2013, issue of Science Translational Medicine.

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Neutralizing Antibodies Offer Clues for HIV Vaccine Research

Researchers have identified broadly neutralizing antibodies targeting variable regions of the HIV-1 envelope that controlled superinfection in a South African woman, according to a report in the March 2, 2014, online edition of Nature. Learning more about such antibodies and how they work may aid the development of preventive or therapeutic HIV vaccines.

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Although the body produces antibodies in response to HIV infection, in most people the immune system is not able to control the virus. Some individuals, however, do manage to keep HIV in check, offering insight into what must be done to give other people this ability.

At an HIV community cure workshop preceding the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2014) this week in Boston, Romas Gelezunias from Gilead Sciences described several avenues of HIV cure research, including potent and broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies derived from HIV patients he dubbed "elite neutralizers."

Below is an edited excerpt from a press release issued by Wits University describing the Nature study in more detail.

New Research on Potent HIV Antibodies

March 3, 2014 -- The discovery of how a KwaZulu-Natal woman’s body responded to her HIV infection by making potent antibodies (called broadly neutralizing antibodies, because they are able to kill multiple strains of HIV from across the world), was reported today by the CAPRISA consortium of AIDS researchers jointly with scientists from the United States.

The study, published in the scientific journal Nature, describes how the research team found and identified these antibodies in her blood and then duplicated them by cloning the antibodies in the laboratory. The cloned antibodies were then used in a series of experiments in the laboratory to elucidate the pathway followed by her immune system to make these potent antibodies.

The South African researchers in the CAPRISA consortium, which includes scientists from Wits University, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in Johannesburg, the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the University of Cape Town, worked jointly with U.S. partners based at the Vaccine Research Center of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, and Columbia University in New York, to conduct this research.

"In this new publication, we have been able to isolate a broadly neutralizing antibody from this CAPRISA volunteer and trace its origins to understand exactly how it arose. This could lead to new HIV vaccine strategies that are able to stimulate the rare precursors of these protective antibodies," says Professor Lynn Morris, from the National Health Laboratory Service in the Wits School of Pathology who leads the research team at the NICD.

Professor Salim S. Abdool Karim, leader of the CAPRISA consortium and President of the Medical Research Council, commented, "The new insights gained from this KwaZulu-Natal woman into immune responses against HIV bring hope for future HIV prevention and treatment strategies. This woman, referred to as CAPRISA 256 (abbreviated to CAP256), is doing well on antiretroviral therapy and continues to attend the CAPRISA clinic regularly."

Just over a year ago, the same team of South African researchers reported in Nature Medicine (also part of the Nature group of journals) on their discovery relating to two other KwaZulu-Natal women, that a shift in the position of one sugar molecule on the surface of the virus led to the development of broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV.

All HIV infected people respond to HIV by making antibodies. In most patients, these antibodies are not able to kill a wide range of HIV -- this is described as a lack of neutralization breadth. However, in a few infected people, they naturally make antibodies that kill (neutralize) many different kinds of HIV (i.e. they are broadly neutralizing antibodies).

"Broadly neutralizing antibodies have some unusual features," says Dr. Penny Moore, from Wits University and one of the lead South African scientists on the study based at the NICD. "The outer covering (envelope) of HIV has a coating of sugars that prevents antibodies from reaching the surface to neutralize the virus. In this patient, we found that her antibodies had 'long arms', which enabled them to reach through the sugar coat that protects HIV." In this study, the researchers found that these antibodies had 'long arms' right at the outset. "We discovered that some HIV antibodies are born with 'long arms', requiring less time and fewer changes to become effective in killing HIV," says Moore.

The identification and successful cloning of these special antibodies enables the researchers to make sufficiently large quantities for further testing, similar to the way a medicine used to prevent or treat HIV would be tested. "Our goal is to test these antibodies, preferably in combination with other broadly neutralizing antibodies, directly in patients with HIV infection or in patients at risk of getting infected," said Karim. "But this will take some time as the team is currently planning animal studies as a first step.

Broadly neutralizing antibodies have previously been shown to be effective in preventing and treating HIV infection in animals, but this has never before been shown in humans." The future studies on animals and humans are being supported by the Strategic Health Innovation Partnerships, a unit of the South African Medical Research Council, with funding from the Department of Science and Technology.

The Minister of Science and Technology, Mr. Derek Hanekom, commented: "This study highlights the importance of international scientific partnerships and the contributions of South African researchers to world-class medical science. The Department of Science and Technology is delighted to have contributed funds for this research. We are proud of the South African research team who conducted this ground-breaking study and thank the US partners for their collaboration and support."

The Minister of Health, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, pointed out: "Since South Africa has the largest burden of HIV infection globally, we are gratified to see South African scientists, under Professor Abdool Karim's leadership, undertake this research to find solutions that will bring an end to AIDS. We are hopeful that this research takes us one step closer to developing an AIDS vaccine."

3/4/14

Reference

NA Doria-Rose, CA Schramm, J Gorman, JR Mascola, et al. Developmental pathway for potent V1V2-directed HIV-neutralizing antibodies. Nature. March 2, 2014 (Epub).

Other Sources

Wits University. New Research on Potent HIV Antibodies. Press release. March 3, 2014.

National Institutes of Health. Study of antibody evolution charts course toward HIV vaccine. Press release. March 2, 2014.

International AIDS Society Conference Starts Sunday

The 7th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2013) will kick of Sunday, June 30, in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Key areas of interest will include new developments in antiretroviral therapy, biomedical HIV prevention, and improving access to and retention in care.alt

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Inflammation Markers Linked to Disease Progression and Death in People with HIV

Levels of several inflammatory biomarkers were associated with a higher risk of developing AIDS-defining and non-AIDS events among participants in a large clinical trial, researchers reported in the February 1, 2014 Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. A related study also saw a link between inflammatory markers and mortality in a group of HIV positive adults with alcohol problems.

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Researchers Discover How HIV Integration into T-Cells Triggers Cell Death

Viral integration into CD4 T-cells triggers host cell death by activating DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK), according to study findings published in the June 5, 2013, advance online edition of Nature. Learning how HIV signals infected cells to die may lead to new ways to prevent immune system decline.

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Electron Microscopy Provides Detailed Look at HIV in Gut Tissue

Imaging of active HIV infection of cells in gut tissue using 3-dimensional electron microscopy showed that the virus behaves differently in cultured cells and tissue infection models, providing new information about how HIV spreads within lymphoid tissue, according to a report in the January 30, 2014, edition of PLoS Pathogens.

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Very Early Antiretroviral Therapy Does Not Prevent Immune Activation

People who started antiretroviral therapy (ART) during acute HIV infection and experienced sustained viral suppression saw a substantial decrease in immune activation markers on their CD8 T-cells after 2 years of treatment, but often not to the level seen in HIV negative individuals, according to a report in the April 15, 2013, Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.

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Low Drug Levels in Lymphatic Tissue May Underlie Low HIV Viral Load

HIV continues to replicate in the lymph nodes of people taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) that suppresses viral load in peripheral blood, according to a small study in the January 27 early online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Several commonly used antiretroviral drugs reached lower concentrations in lymphatic tissue compared with blood, allowing ongoing virus production that may contribute to increased inflammation and immune activation in people with apparently well-controlled HIV.

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CROI 2013: Challenges and Opportunities for the Development of Long-acting Antiretrovirals [VIDEO]

Marta Boffito from Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London presented an overview of some of the challenges and opportunities in the development of long-acting antiretroviral agents for HIV treatment and prevention in a themed discussion at the 20th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2013) last week in Atlanta.

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CD4 T Memory Stem Cells Act as HIV Reservoir

A specific type of long-lived CD4 T-cells known as T memory stem cells continue to harbor high levels of HIV DNA despite suppressive antiretroviral therapy, and may constitute one of the main reservoirs that make the virus so difficult to eradicate, according to a reports in the January 12, 2014, online edition of Nature Medicine.

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CROI 2013: Can HIV Elite Controllers Benefit from Antiretroviral Treatment?

Elite controllers -- people who naturally maintain undetectable viral load without antiretroviral therapy (ART) -- experienced decreased levels of HIV genetic material and reductions in markers of inflammation and immune activation after starting experimental treatment, according to study findings presented at the 20th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2013) last week in Atlanta.

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