The discovery opens the way for new therapies against HIV-AIDS. Now, it might be possible to treat HIV / AIDS adding chemotherapy targeted to current treatment called HAART (Highly Active Anti-Retroviral). This new solution would destroy all the viruses circulating in the body than those hidden in immune cells.
The work was led by Dr. Sekaly of the University of Montreal (Canada) and were published in the journal Nature Medicine.
So far the treatment against AIDS is still hampered by the elimination of "reservoirs of HIV" of immune system cells where the virus is hiding and where the current HAART regimens can not achieve. The researchers were able to identify cells where HIV hides and mechanisms that allow the virus to evade current treatments. They thus paved the way for new therapies completely different from what is currently used.
"Our results support a strategy similar to that used against leukemia: chemotherapy, combined with targeted immune therapy,"
said Dr. Sekaly, professor at the University of Montreal, a researcher at the Research Center of Hospital of the University of Montreal, Director INSERM 743 and Scientific Director of the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute in Florida.
"This would destroy the cells containing a virus, while giving the immune system time to regenerate itself with healthy cells."
"For the first time, this study shows that the reservoirs of HIV are not due to insufficient power antiretrovirals but the persistence of the virus in two types of immune CD4 cells for life long memories"
said Dr. Jean-Pierre Routy, hematologist at the MUHC researcher Infection and Immunity Research Institute of the MUHC, and Professor of Hematology at McGill University.
"There are so many types of reservoirs of HIV, each requiring different treatment to be eliminated. "
Indeed, once the virus is hidden in these reservoir cells it becomes dependent: if the cell lives, but the virus lives when the cell dies, the virus dies too. Destroying these immune cells is therefore to eliminate the party best hidden virus. The current HAART regimens effectively destroy viruses circulating in the body but can not reach those hidden in the cell reservoir.
"We now have all new options to explore in the coming years to combat HIV,"
concludes Nicolas Chomont, post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Montreal and one of the co-authors of this study.
"The combination of basic and clinical approaches has led to surprising results that allow us to solve another of the mysteries of this virus with a thousand faces."
These new therapeutic options require many years of research before being validated and to become a reality for patients. However, this study represents an invaluable work plan that will guide many laboratories around the world.