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Gladstone scientists develop technique to decipher the dormant AIDS virus concealed in cells
Date:9/11/2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CASeptember 11, 2012Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes have gotten us one step closer to understanding and overcoming one of the least-understood mechanisms of HIV infectionby devising a method to precisely track the life cycle of individual cells infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

In a paper being published online today in Lab on a Chip, the laboratory of Gladstone Investigator Leor Weinberger, PhD, announced the development of a device that can pinpoint and track HIV inside CD4 T cellsthe type of white blood cell that the AIDS virus targets. This development is particularly important for understanding "HIV latency," a state in which the virus goes dormant after the patient begins standard antiretroviral treatment. Current antiretroviral drugs do not kill HIVthey only keep it at baymeaning that those with HIV must continue a lifetime of drug treatment so as not to develop AIDS. If they discontinue the drugs, the latent virus "wakes up" within just a few weeks and begins an onslaught against the body's immune system.

The breakthrough comes as the AIDS-researcher community is beginning to speak publicly about the possibility of curing HIV/AIDS. Understandingand consequently interruptingHIV latency is a key element in the effort to discover a cure for this devastating disease.

"HIV latency is perhaps the single greatest obstacle to eradicating HIV/AIDS in the 34 million people who live with the disease worldwide," said Dr. Weinberger, who is also an associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), with which Gladstone is affiliated. "Existing techniques that try to uncover the cellular and viral mechanisms behind HIV latency are inefficient at studying very rare cellsand cells housing the latent HIV virus are one-in-a-million. Our technique presents a clear path towards understanding how HIV latency is regulated within a single cell, by tr
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Contact: Anne Holden
anne.holden@gladstone.ucsf.edu
415-734-2534
Gladstone Institutes
Source:Eurekalert  

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