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Temple scientists weaken HIV infection in immune cells using synthetic agents
Date:5/1/2013

been much pharmacological interest in developing agents that selectively target CB2. Ideally, these compounds would help limit chronic inflammatory responses and would not bind to CB1. The most promising compounds are those derived from THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the main active substance in cannabis.

The development of such drugs, however, hinges largely on knowing which cells harbor HIV. Earlier studies suggested that T cells, central components of the immune system, are HIV reservoirs. The Temple team, however, chose to focus on macrophages, which are a type of white blood cell that engulfs and destroys foreign agents.

According to Ramirez and the study's senior investigator, Yuri Persidsky, MD, PhD, Chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at TUSM, macrophages likely are the primary reservoir for HIV. They are among the first cells to become infected following sexual transmission of the virus, and they are found in every organ of the human body and circulate in the blood. It is currently thought that macrophages may be responsible for introducing HIV into the brain, ultimately initiating HIV-associated cognitive decline.

The scientists landed on their discovery by conducting a series of experiments in a well-established, non-clinical HIV macrophage cell model. They began by treating the HIV-infected cells with one of three different synthetic CB2-activating compounds. The cells were then sampled periodically to measure the activity of an enzyme called reverse transcriptase, which is essential for HIV replication. After seven days, the team found that all three compounds had successfully attenuated HIV replication. The experiments and findings are detailed in the May issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.

The results suggest that selective CB2 agonists could potentially be used in tandem with existing antiretroviral drugs, opening the door to the generation of new drug therapies for HIV/AID
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Contact: Jeremy Walter
Jeremy.Walter@tuhs.temple.edu
215-707-7882
Temple University Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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