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Researchers at the Gladstone Institutes find novel approach to reactivate latent HIV
Date:6/5/2014

SAN FRANCISCO, CAJune 5, 2014A team of scientists at the Gladstone Institutes has identified a new way to make latent HIV reveal itself, which could help overcome one of the biggest obstacles to finding a cure for HIV infection. They discovered that increasing the random activity, or noise, associated with HIV gene expressionwithout increasing the average level of gene expressioncan reactivate latent HIV. Their findings were published today in the journal Science.

When HIV infects an immune cell, it inserts its genetic material into the DNA of the infected cell. In most cases, the immune cell's machinery makes copies of the viral genetic material, a process known as transcription. This eventually leads to the productionor expressionof all the components needed to make more viruses. The new viruses are released from the infected cell and spread the infection to other immune cells in the body.

In some cases, however, HIV expression goes into a holding pattern and the virus enters a latent state within the infected immune cell. This means that a small percentage of HIV hides in infected cells, beyond the reach of even the most potent drugs. As a result, we cannot completely eliminate HIV from the body, and people with HIV infection have to take antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) for the rest of their lives.

"Understanding how to reactivate latent HIV is one of the major challenges we must overcome in order to find a cure for HIV," said Leor Weinberger, PhD, Associate Investigator in the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology and senior author of the study. Roy Dar, PhD, the lead author of the study, added, "If we can make the virus show itself, we can then use ARVs to eliminate it. This so-called 'shock and kill' approach holds great promise, but to date it has unfortunately shown only limited success."

One of the properties of latency that makes it so difficult to address is that it is randomor stochasticin nature. Rand
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Contact: Ann Carollo
ann.carollo@gladstone.ucsf.edu
415-734-2008
Gladstone Institutes
Source:Eurekalert

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