New breakthrough brings HIV cure closer to reality
Washington – Researchers have used radioimmunotherapy (RIT) to destroy remaining human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected cells in the blood samples of patients treated with antiretroviral therapy, offering the promise of a strategy for curing HIV infection.
“In an HIV patient on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), drugs suppress viral replication, which means they keep the number of viral particles in a patient’s bloodstream very low. However, HAART cannot kill the HIV-infected cells,” the study’s lead author, Ekaterina Dadachova, from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y, said. “Any strategy for curing HIV infection must include a method to eliminate viral-infected cells.”
In her study, Dr. Dadachova and a team of researchers administered RIT to blood samples from 15 HIV patients treated with HAART at the Einstein-Montefiore Center for AIDS Research.
RIT, which has historically been employed to treat cancer, uses monoclonal antibodies—cloned cells that are recruited by the immune system to identify and neutralize antigens
Dadachova said in RIT, the antibodies bind to the infected cells and kill them by radiation. When HAART and RIT are used together, they kill the virus and the infected cells, respectively.
For the study, Dr. Dadachova’s team paired the monoclonal antibody (mAb2556) designed to target a protein expressed on the surface of HIV-infected cells with the radionuclide Bismuth-213.
The researchers found that RIT was able to kill HIV-infected lymphocytes previously treated with HAART, reducing the HIV infection in the blood samples to undetectable levels.
The study was presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).