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Rare case explains why some infected with HIV remain symptom free without antiretroviral drugs
Date:8/11/2008

can effectively halt disease progression by a pathogenic form of HIV," says Blankson, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

"Moreover, the strength of the immune response was not dependent on infection by a weakened form of the virus. And if we can harness the means by which these elite white blood cells stop the virus, then we can hopefully 'teach' or reprogram white blood cells in others to also target HIV," he says.

Included in the blood analysis was genetic testing which confirmed that both husband and wife were infected with the same pathogenic strain of HIV and ruled out the possibility that there were genetic deficiencies in the virus that infected the wife.

Genetic testing also confirmed that both husband and wife had an overactive strand of genetic material tied to gene HLA B57, found in previous studies to be more common in those whose HIV infection was suppressed or slowed.

"The presence of this genetic spot is a discordant result that strongly contradicts theories that various genetic factors alone play a protective role in suppression," says Blankson.

He notes that study findings revealed a beneficial side effect to spurring the immune system cells to attack HIV.

Using new laboratory tests that precisely measure the immune response to various strains of HIV, researchers first tested T-cells from both the wife and husband to see if their immune system cells suppressed viral replication. They found that activated T-cells from the wife stalled HIV replication by as much as 90 percent, while the husband's T-cells stopped it by only 30 percent.

In subsequent genetic analyses, the viral strain in the wife's blood was found to have at least two mutations known to weaken the virus, while the viral strain in the husband's blood had fewer mutations affecting fitness.

According to Blankson, the stronger immune system in elite suppression not only lo
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Contact: David March
dmarch1@jhmi.edu
410-955-1534
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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