AIDS: HIV Not Culprit

By R. Siva Kumar - 28 Aug '15 14:27PM
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Study shows that the progression to 'acquired immunodeficiency syndrome', or AIDS, after human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is not due to the direct effect of the virus on our immune cells, but due to the effect of infected immune cells on other immune cells according to upi.

Hence, the approach to treating HIV has changed, as researchers feel that they can block the progress from virus to AIDS based on the understanding of the infection and how it works.

"Although free-floating viruses establish the initial infection, it is the subsequent cell-to-cell spread of HIV that causes massive CD4 T cell death," says co-first author Nicole Galloway, PhD, a post-doctoral fellow at the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology. "Cell-to-cell transmission of HIV is absolutely required for activation of the pathogenic HIV cell-death pathway."

Earlier research explained that almost 95 per cent of cell death due to HIV is due to cells killing themselves after they fail at infection. Cells "at rest" tend to abort the virus when it attempts to invade, but DNA is kept back after the HIV gets ejected from cells.

The DNA activates the enzymes in the cell leading them to "commit defensive suicide".

Even as HIV infects new cells as a free-floating virus, it spreads fastest through cell-to-cell transmission.

Moreover, scientists examined many techniques for transferring HIV, which included "genetically modifying the virus; applying chemical HIV inhibitors; blocking inter-cellular synapses; and increasing the physical distance between the cells so they could not come into contact with one another."

"This study fundamentally changes our mindset about how HIV causes massive cell death, and puts the spotlight squarely on the infected cells in lymphoid tissues rather than the free virus," said Dr. Warner C. Greene, director of the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology. "By preventing cell-to-cell transmission, we may able to block the death pathway and stop the progression from HIV infection to AIDS."

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