Can the Establishment and Persistence of HIV Reservoirs Ever Be Controlled?
Study Summary by Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, Ph.D.
July 19, 2009
There's nothing like hearing the results of studies directly from those who actually conducted the research. In this summary, you'll hear Nobel Prize winner Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, Ph.D., director of the Unité de Régulation des Infections Rétrovirales at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, France, summarize her plenary talk "Can the Establishment and Persistence of HIV Reservoirs Ever Be Controlled?" It is followed by a question from a reporter. To hear her plenary talk, click here.
Dr. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi: The only solution that we have today is universal access to treatment and prevention of HIV and AIDS. So we're here to pressure world leaders to continue with their commitment and provide resources for access to treatment.
As scientists, we have to think also to the future of treatment and to the future of prevention. There are two main challenges for scientists today. One is, of course, vaccine research. The second is designing therapy to control the viral reservoir that this virus is capable of making in the body.
We are at a time today where science is progressing. We have more and more information about what are the reservoirs; what are the main cells that constitute the reservoirs in the body; where they are in the body, in the front compartments; and what are the mechanisms of establishment and persistence of these reservoirs.
From the data that we have today, we can already think about some new strategies for the future. One thing is certain. We cannot predict how long it will take to have new efficient strategies to control the reservoirs. As a consequence, of course, we should make progress and pressure world leaders to continue the access to treatment.
Reporter: You said that there are now ideas for strategies. Can you elaborate a little on that?
Dr. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi: Yes. Tonight I will speak about recent data regarding the reservoir cells. The main reservoir cells are indeed CD4 memory T cells. And a recent report, a very nice report in Nature Medicine, from the laboratory of Rafick Sékaly showed that there are two populations of memory T cells that serve as reservoirs. [To read more about this study, click here.] The mechanism for the persistence of the virus in those two cell populations is related to proliferation of cells and to regeneration of those cells, which means that we have to think in the future about combining antiretroviral treatment with a drug that will block proliferation of the cells in homeostatis. This is one part.
The other news and progress in science that we have is regarding the establishment and the persistence of the reservoirs. Several molecules have been discovered that are important because they block the transcription of the virus into the target cells, in particular, the memory cells. Among those is histone deacetylase.
There is already data indicating that with molecules [that work] against histone deacetylase, you can unlock viral replication. And so, together with antiretroviral treatment, it's another strategy that we can think about for the future. And there are very interesting data in the literature on those aspects.
So my guess is that in the future, in order to control these reservoirs, we will have to combine a strategy to unlock the latent virus in the reservoir cells together with antiretroviral therapy. Another strategy may be to use early intense antiretroviral treatment together with molecules that resemble anti-cancer drugs. But we also have to keep in mind immunomodulators and vaccine therapy for the future when we will have good candidates.
This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
This article was provided by TheBodyPRO. It is a part of the publication The 5th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention.