A very small percentage of people with HIV-1, known as "post-treatment controllers" (PTCs), are able to control their infection after interrupting all antiretroviral therapy. Understanding the fundamental mechanisms that govern their immune response is essential in order to develop HIV-1 vaccines, novel therapeutic strategies to achieve remission, or both. A recent study investigated the humoral immune response – also known as antibody-mediated immunity – in some PTCs in whom transient episodes of viral activity were observed. The researchers have shown their humoral immune response to be both effective and robust, which could help to control the infection in the absence of treatment.
In the 40 years since the first published reports of the syndrome known as AIDS, more than 32 million people have died from the virus that causes it, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). With more than 35 million people worldwide living with HIV today and nearly two million new cases each year, HIV remains a major global epidemic.
The improved therapy engineers the body’s immune response against HIV rather than waiting for the virus — or parts of the virus — to induce a response.
A recent study published in the journal Nature Medicine, led by researchers Todd Allen, PhD, a professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and group leader at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, and Jim Riley, PhD, a professor of Microbiology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, describes a new Dual CAR T cell immunotherapy that can help fight HIV infection. The paper's first authors are Colby Maldini, a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania and Daniel Claiborne, PhD, a research fellow at the Ragon Institute.