Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

UCLA Scientists Uncork Fountain Of Youth For HIV-Fighting Cells

Date:
November 26, 2004
Source:
University Of California, Los Angeles
Summary:
UCLA scientists have shown that a protein called telomerase prevents the premature aging of the immune cells that fight HIV, enabling the cells to divide indefinitely and prolong their defense against infection. Published Nov. 15 in the Journal of Immunology, the research suggests a future therapy for boosting the weakened immune systems of HIV-positive people.

UCLA scientists have shown that a protein called telomerase prevents the premature aging of the immune cells that fight HIV, enabling the cells to divide indefinitely and prolong their defense against infection. Published Nov. 15 in the Journal of Immunology, the research suggests a future therapy for boosting the weakened immune systems of HIV-positive people.

Related Articles


Every cell contains a tiny cellular clock called a telomere, which shortens each time the cell splits in two. Located at the end of the cell's chromosome, the telomere limits the number of times a cell can divide.

"Immune cells that fight HIV are under constant strain to divide in order to continue performing their protective functions. This massive amount of division shortens these cells' telomeres prematurely," said Dr. Rita Effros, Plott Chair in Gerontology and professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "So the telomeres of a 40-year-old person infected with HIV resemble those of a healthy 90-year-old person."

Most scientists agree that telomeres evolved to avert the rampant cell growth that often leads to cancer. Yet many cancers continue growing because they undergo genetic changes and start to produce telomerase, which regenerates their cells' telomeres.

Effros and first author Mirabelle Dagarag hypothesized that harnessing telomerase's power over telomeres may provide a potent weapon in helping the AIDS patient's exhausted immune system defend itself against HIV. The researchers extracted immune cells from the blood of HIV-infected persons and tested what would happen if telomerase remained permanently switched on in the cell.

"By exploiting telomerase's growth influence on telomeres, we thought we might be able to keep the immune cells youthful and active as they replicated under attack," said Dagarag, a postgraduate researcher. "We used gene therapy to boost the immune cell's telomerase and then exposed the cell to HIV."

What Dagarag and Effros saw delighted them.

"We found that the immune cells could divide endlessly," said Effros, a member of the UCLA AIDS Institute. "They grew at a normal rate and didn't show any chromosomal abnormalities that might lead to cancer."

"We also saw that telomerase stabilized the telomere length," Dagarag said. "The telomere didn't shorten each time the cell divided, which left the cell able to vigorously battle HIV much longer."

The UCLA work is the first to prove that maintaining telomerase activity in immune cells from HIV-infected persons prevents telomeres from shortening.

"This is the first step toward developing other telomerase-based strategies for controlling HIV disease," Dagarag said. "Increasing the amount of telomerase in certain immune cells may one day hold the key to treating AIDS."

"To battle HIV infection effectively, we must strengthen the human immune system — not just suppress the virus as current drugs do," Effros said. "We need a two-pronged approach to attack the disease from both sides of the medical equation."

Effros and the Geron Corp., which collaborated on this study, also are testing several non-genetic methods of activating telomerase as potential treatments for persons infected with HIV.

The UCLA team's approach could provide the foundation for immunotherapy as a treatment for HIV and related diseases that rely on lasting protection by the same immune cells. These include cancer and latent cytomegalovirus, a viral infection that often strikes organ‑transplant patients and people with AIDS.

The study was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Universitywide AIDS Research Program, the Geron Corp. and a University of California Discovery Grant.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of California, Los Angeles. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of California, Los Angeles. "UCLA Scientists Uncork Fountain Of Youth For HIV-Fighting Cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 November 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041123102450.htm>.
University Of California, Los Angeles. (2004, November 26). UCLA Scientists Uncork Fountain Of Youth For HIV-Fighting Cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041123102450.htm
University Of California, Los Angeles. "UCLA Scientists Uncork Fountain Of Youth For HIV-Fighting Cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041123102450.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smart phones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hugging It Out Could Help You Ward Off A Cold

Hugging It Out Could Help You Ward Off A Cold

Newsy (Dec. 21, 2014) Carnegie Mellon researchers found frequent hugs can help people avoid stress-related illnesses. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins