to see how they reacted to the AIDS virus. The researchers are trying to understand how the immune systems in non-progressors hold the virus in check over a long period of time.
To illustrate a similar point, Connors explained that the immune systems of people who have ever had chicken pox continue to stand guard against genetic material left in their bodies by the virus. But some people can develop the disease known as shingles if their immune system fails to keep pace, he said.
The researchers behind the new study found that immune cells known as CD8+ T cells are better armed in the non-progressors and do a better job of killing HIV, he said.
The research may help scientists develop an AIDS vaccine because it gives them a better idea of what people should look like when they've got good control of the virus, Connors said.
That makes senses to Johnston, who said the new findings are "compelling" and provide "fundamental groundwork" that's key to developing a vaccine.
To learn more about AIDS, visit AIDS.gov.
SOURCES: Mark Connors, M.D., chief, HIV-Specific Immunity Section, U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, Md.; Rowena Johnston, Ph.D., vice president, research, Foundation for AIDS Research, New York City; Dec. 4, 2008, Immunity
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