TRAIL and dormant cells
Dec 24, 2001
Can you give your opinion on this:
Ottawa researchers at the Ottawa Hospital announced this week that a naturally occurring protein can reduce the level of HIV to undetectable levels in dormant cells that hide from other drugs. The team tested a molecule developed by Seattle-based Immunex Corporation called TRAIL, or tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand. This is a protein produced by the body's immune cells.
Response from Dr. Pavia
I have not read the original scientific article. I don't get a lot out of press releases that allows me to really judge the science. However, this sounds like an interesting scientific observation that may lead to an improved understanding of how HIV infected cells avoid "programmed cell death" or apoptosis, which allows the chronically infected cells to survive for long periods. As you know, chronically infected replication competent resting cells are a reservoir that remains even in people with undetectable viral load for long periods of time.
Will this lead to a treatment breakthrough? Too early to tell. Usually, basic science "breakthroughs" are important building blocks in our understanding. With enough blocks we can build new understanding, which leads eventually to therapy. The media, and sometimes the public affairs office at the company or even University, like to portray things in terms of drama and excitement. Science is not usually like that.
Hope this helps
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