These are the results of a study carried out by scientists from Hamburg and München and published in the renowned Journal of Virology.
HIV persists in macrophages, the scavenger cells of the immune system. Within these cells HIV is transferred to other organs and even passes through the blood-brain barrier into the human brain and the central nervous system. The research team led by Dr. Michael Schindler at the Institute of Virology of the Helmholtz Zentrum München has now described the mechanism responsible for this persistence used by the AIDS-causing virus: Within a macrophage internal membrane system the virus is protected from attacks by the immune system.
[Translate to Englisch:] Dr. Michael Schindler, Institut für Virologie, Helmholtz Zentrum München, Dr. Herwig Koppensteiner, Heinrich-Pette-Institut, Hamburg
“The results of our study show how reservoirs are formed in which HIV can persist in the human body. This is another important finding in the fight against the incurable infection with the AIDS virus,” said Herwig Koppensteiner, first author of the publication. “The next step will be to identify potential therapeutic targets by investigating how viral and cellular proteins are involved in this persistence.” In October 2011 Michael Schindler moved with his research group from the Heinrich Pette Institute in Hamburg to the Helmholtz Zentrum München.
Anti-retroviral drugs can suppress the infection with the Human Immuno-deficiency Virus, the causative agent of AIDS, but they cannot cure the disease. One reason for this is that the virus persists in cellular reservoirs. Only through a better understanding of how cellular reservoirs are formed and how HIV escapes the immune response a therapy with the aim to cure the infection can be developed.
Koppensteiner H. et al (2011): Macrophage internal HIV-1 is protected from neutralizing antibodies. J. Virol. published ahead of print December 28, 2011 , doi:10.1128/JVI.05915-11
Link to journal publication: http://jvi.asm.org/content/early/2011/12/21/JVI.05915-11.abstract