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Author Topic: Cancer Immune Therapy Causes “Drastic Decrease” in HIV Reservoir  (Read 1285 times)

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Offline POZ Editors

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A middle-aged man living with HIV saw his viral reservoir considerably deplete following extended treatment with an immune-based treatment for lung cancer. His case offers exciting evidence that may help guide scientists conducting further research toward a means of curing the virus.

The viral reservoir is largely composed of cells that are latently infected with HIV, meaning they are not replicating and producing new copies of the virus. Because standard antiretroviral treatment works only on replicating cells, this dormancy creates an effective shield against such medications. The presence of the viral reservoir, therefore, frustrates attempts to eradicate HIV from the body.

HIV-infected immune cells are typically blocked by cellular molecules known as immune checkpoints. One such checkpoint is called PD-1, or programmed death-1, which also impedes immune cells’ ability to fight HIV. So in theory the use of drugs that inhibit PD-1 among people with HIV may have two key benefits: waking up dormant cells so their HIV infection may become visible to an immune system that is better equipped to fight them. The end result, ideally, would be a diminished HIV reservoir.

And, as it happens, in the cancer treatment field, there are numerous immune-based drugs that inhibit checkpoints like PD-1.


Offline BKKKevin

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Re: Cancer Immune Therapy Causes “Drastic Decrease” in HIV Reservoir
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2017, 09:37:45 pm »
This is great research!...

One question?... How does one test the level of ones HIV reservoir levels?

Offline xinyuan

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Re: Cancer Immune Therapy Causes “Drastic Decrease” in HIV Reservoir
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2017, 09:03:10 pm »
For the research buffs, the actual journal letter is here:

In answer to BKKKevin's question, it is unclear from the article.  It states they measured cell-associated HIV DNA. 

Judging from their report of a reduction from 369 to 30 per 10^6 CD4 cells, I'm guessing that they likely did it the old-fashioned way.  By old-fashioned, I mean by sampling a large number of cells, looking for cells marked with a lab-created HIV DNA tag. 

This method has been previously criticized as not truly representing infected cells that are replication competent / capable of producing the virus.  Regardless, cell-associated HIV DNA may still be useful as a marker of reservoir size.

Still, a very interesting case report.  And a small hint that therapies targeting PD-1 may be a potential avenue for depleting the HIV reservoir.

Offline Mightysure

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Re: Cancer Immune Therapy Causes “Drastic Decrease” in HIV Reservoir
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2017, 01:26:44 pm »
@BKKevin. There are a few ways to test the reservoir, but one way is to extract white blood cells by a method called leukepheresis and they measure the amount of viral dna.


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