Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists develop technique to decipher the dormant AIDS virus concealed in cells

Date:
September 11, 2012
Source:
Gladstone Institutes
Summary:
Scientists have gotten us one step closer to understanding and overcoming one of the least-understood mechanisms of HIV infection -- by devising a method to precisely track the life cycle of individual cells infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes have gotten us one step closer to understanding and overcoming one of the least-understood mechanisms of HIV infection -- by devising a method to precisely track the life cycle of individual cells infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

In a paper being published online today in Lab on a Chip, the laboratory of Gladstone Investigator Leor Weinberger, PhD, announced the development of a device that can pinpoint and track HIV inside CD4 T cells -- the type of white blood cell that the AIDS virus targets. This development is particularly important for understanding "HIV latency," a state in which the virus goes dormant after the patient begins standard antiretroviral treatment. Current antiretroviral drugs do not kill HIV -- they only keep it at bay -- meaning that those with HIV must continue a lifetime of drug treatment so as not to develop AIDS. If they discontinue the drugs, the latent virus "wakes up" within just a few weeks and begins an onslaught against the body's immune system.

The breakthrough comes as the AIDS-researcher community is beginning to speak publicly about the possibility of curing HIV/AIDS. Understanding -- and consequently interrupting -- HIV latency is a key element in the effort to discover a cure for this devastating disease.

"HIV latency is perhaps the single greatest obstacle to eradicating HIV/AIDS in the 34 million people who live with the disease worldwide," said Dr. Weinberger, who is also an associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), with which Gladstone is affiliated. "Existing techniques that try to uncover the cellular and viral mechanisms behind HIV latency are inefficient at studying very rare cells -- and cells housing the latent HIV virus are one-in-a-million. Our technique presents a clear path towards understanding how HIV latency is regulated within a single cell, by tracking the individual cells that traditionally had been difficult to monitor."

Singe-cell, time-lapse microscopy -- a state-of-the-art technique that scientists have lately used to track some viral infections and map antibiotic resistance to drugs -- has not worked for tracking the HIV-infection cycle in CD4 T cells, especially in the latent state. This is because these cells are notoriously evasive. They spontaneously move around, attaching and detaching from their neighbors, making it nearly impossible to monitor individual HIV-infected cells over time.

However, Dr. Weinberger's team devised a clever system that essentially guides and suspends HIV-infected T cells into tiny finger-like channels -- reducing their ability to move or detach from their neighbors.

"First, we load the T cells into a small well, allowing them to settle into the bottom -- which is filled with nutrients that keep the cells well-fed and stress-free," explained the paper's lead author Brandon Razooky, a Gladstone and UCSF graduate student. "Next, we tilt the device and the cells slide into microscopic finger-like channels that are attached to the well. Finally, we return the device to its upright position, locking about 25 T cells inside each channel and essentially 'freezing' them in place."

The device has several advantages over current methods. First and foremost, individual cells stay in place so investigators can follow them over time with single-cell, time-lapse microscopy. Second, the fact that each T cell is suspended in nutrients in close physical contact with other cells results in near optimal conditions for keeping the infected cell alive for the virus' entire life cycle.

"This means that we now have the potential to analyze the entire course of an HIV infection in an individual cell -- especially during the crucial latency stage -- for which we know so little," said Dr. Weinberger. "In the future, we plan to expand the device's design to include a larger number of wells and channels to track HIV infection on a larger scale. We want to use the information gleaned here to finally unravel the mechanisms behind HIV latency. With that knowledge, we hope to devise a treatment to bring the latent virus out of hiding in order to flush it from a patient's system, once and for all."

This research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Brandon Razooky, Edgar Gutierrez, Valery H Terry, Celsa A Spina, Alex Groisman, Leor S Weinberger. Microwell Devices with Finger-like Channels for Long-Term Imaging of HIV-1 Expression Kinetics in Primary Human Lymphocytes. Lab on a Chip, 2012; DOI: 10.1039/C2LC40170C

Cite This Page:

Gladstone Institutes. "Scientists develop technique to decipher the dormant AIDS virus concealed in cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120911125343.htm>.
Gladstone Institutes. (2012, September 11). Scientists develop technique to decipher the dormant AIDS virus concealed in cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120911125343.htm
Gladstone Institutes. "Scientists develop technique to decipher the dormant AIDS virus concealed in cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120911125343.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

Reuters - US Online Video (July 31, 2014) The Republican-led House of Representatives votes to sue President Obama, accusing him of overstepping his executive authority in making changes to the Affordable Care Act. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Newsy (July 31, 2014) Citing 81 previous studies, new research out of London suggests the benefits of smoking e-cigarettes instead of regular ones outweighs the risks. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
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:
from the past week

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