Researchers Discover Protein That Could Lead to Development of HIV Vaccine, New Treatments, Study Says
The discovery of a protein, known as FOX03a, found in the nucleus of CD4+ T cells could lead to the development of an HIV vaccine and new treatments, according to a study recently published in the online edition of the journal Nature Medicine, Toronto's Globe and Mail reports (Alphonso, Globe and Mail, 3/4).
For the study, Rafick-Pierre Sekaly of the University of Montreal and colleagues from the McGill University Health Center and San Diego, Calif.-based BD BioSciences compared HIV-negative men, HIV-positive men undergoing antiretroviral treatment and HIV-positive men who were able to control HIV without antiretrovirals, or "elite controllers" (Fidelman, CNS/Calgary Herald, 3/3). The study found that the elite controllers were able to suppress viral loads to undetectable levels without medication because their immune systems maintained their memory through control of the FOX03a protein, the Globe and Mail reports.
Elias Haddad, a researcher at the University of Montreal and co-author of the study, said FOX03a in the nucleus of T cells can induce the development of molecules that lead to the cell's death. Inhibiting this action can prevent the premature death of the T cell, the Globe and Mail reports. "We were able to [inhibit cell death] and restore or rescue memory cells from chronic infection so that they now become similar to those of elite controllers," Haddad said. He added that the findings are important because researchers now can try to "reverse the premature death of memory cells during chronic HIV infection." The researchers said the new findings can potentially be used to develop therapies for other diseases, including hepatitis C and some cancers (Globe and Mail, 3/4).
An abstract of the study is available online.