Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists disarm HIV in step towards vaccine

Date:
September 20, 2011
Source:
Imperial College London
Summary:
Researchers have found a way to prevent HIV from damaging the immune system, in a new lab-based study. The research could have important implications for the development of HIV vaccines.

Researchers have found a way to prevent HIV from damaging the immune system, in a new lab-based study published in the journal Blood. The research, led by scientists at Imperial College London and Johns Hopkins University, could have important implications for the development of HIV vaccines.

Related Articles


HIV/AIDS is the third biggest cause of death in low income countries, killing around 1.8 million people a year worldwide. An estimated 2.6 million people became infected with HIV in 2009.

The research shows that HIV is unable to damage the immune system if cholesterol is removed from the virus's membrane. Usually, when a person becomes infected, the body's innate immune response provides an immediate defence. However, some researchers believe that HIV causes the innate immune system to overreact and that this weakens the immune system's next line of defence, known as the adaptive immune response.

In the new study, the researchers removed cholesterol from the membrane surrounding the virus and found that this stopped HIV from triggering the innate immune response. This led to a stronger adaptive response, orchestrated by immune cells called T cells. These results support the idea that HIV overstimulates the innate response and that this weakens the immune system.

Dr Adriano Boasso, first author of the study, from Imperial College London, said: "HIV is very sneaky. It evades the host's defences by triggering overblown responses that damage the immune system. It's like revving your car in first gear for too long. Eventually the engine blows out.

"This may be one reason why developing a vaccine has proven so difficult. Most vaccines prime the adaptive response to recognise the invader, but it's hard for this to work if the virus triggers other mechanisms that weaken the adaptive response."

HIV takes its membrane from the cell that it infects. This membrane contains cholesterol, which helps to keep it fluid. The fluidity of the membrane enables the virus to interact with particular types of cell. Cholesterol in the cell membrane is not connected to cholesterol in the blood, which is a risk factor for heart disease but is not linked to HIV.

Normally, a subset of immune cells called plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) recognise HIV quickly and react by producing signalling molecules called interferons. These signals activate various processes which are initially helpful, but which damage the immune system if switched on for too long.

In collaboration with researchers at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Milan and Innsbruck University, Dr Boasso's group at Imperial have discovered that if cholesterol is removed from HIV's envelope, it can no longer activate pDCs. As a consequence, T cells, which orchestrate the adaptive response, can fight the virus more effectively.

The researchers removed cholesterol using varying concentrations of beta-cyclodextrin (bCD), a derivative of starch that binds cholesterol. Using high levels of bCD they produced a virus with a large hole in its envelope. This permeabilised virus was not infectious and could not activate pDCs, but was still recognised by T cells. Dr Boasso and his colleagues are now looking to investigate whether this inactivated virus could be developed into a vaccine.

"It's like an army that has lost its weapons but still has flags, so another army can recognise it and attack it," he said.

The research was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Imperial College London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Adriano Boasso, Caroline M. Royle, Spyridon Doumazos, Veronica N. Aquino, Mara Biasin, Luca Piacentini, Barbara Tavano, Dietmar Fuchs, Francesco Mazzotta, Sergio Lo Caputo, Gene M Shearer, Mario Clerici, David R. Graham. Over-activation of plasmacytoid dendritic cell inhibits anti-viral T-cell responses: a model for HIV immunopathogenesis. Blood, 2011 DOI: 10.1182/blood-2011-03-344218

Cite This Page:

Imperial College London. "Scientists disarm HIV in step towards vaccine." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110919171336.htm>.
Imperial College London. (2011, September 20). Scientists disarm HIV in step towards vaccine. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110919171336.htm
Imperial College London. "Scientists disarm HIV in step towards vaccine." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110919171336.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

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
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