NIAID Grantees Overcome Hurdle to Kill HIV-Infected Cells Brought out of Hiding
A major obstacle to curing people of HIV infection is the way the virus hides in a reservoir primarily of dormant immune cells called resting memory CD4+ T cells. It has been unclear whether typical immune mechanisms for killing virally infected cells would eliminate HIV-infected CD4+ T cells awakened from the HIV reservoir.
New laboratory research by NIAID grantees finds that dominant killer T cells do not naturally destroy CD4+ T cells infected with HIV from the latent reservoir of people who are chronically infected with the virus, but artificially boosted sub-dominant killer T cells do. This suggests that a therapeutic vaccine that similarly boosts the T-cell response to HIV could be part of a strategy for curing chronic HIV infection.