Breaking News
November 16, 2018 - Researchers unravel mystery of NPM1 protein in acute myeloid leukemia
November 16, 2018 - High school students less likely to select milk, fruit for lunch when fruit juice is available
November 16, 2018 - Football coaches with great emotional competence are more successful
November 16, 2018 - Researchers awarded $10 million grant to address root causes of asthma in Puerto Rico
November 16, 2018 - Health Tip: Manage Morning Sickness
November 16, 2018 - Immunotherapy combination and chemotherapy show encouraging results in Phase II acute myeloid leukemia study
November 16, 2018 - ACC Latin America Conference brings experts to discuss latest cardiovascular science
November 16, 2018 - Pooled analysis of Intersect ENT’s steroid releasing implants in patients after frontal sinus surgery to be published
November 16, 2018 - Expectations about pain intensity can become self-fulfilling prophecies
November 16, 2018 - NIH awards $3.4 million to UC researchers to study gastrointestinal lymphatic system
November 16, 2018 - Scientist Dr David Taylor of MR Solutions is a finalist in the BMW i UK Tech Founder Awards
November 16, 2018 - Earlier treatment could help reverse autistic-like behavior in tuberous sclerosis
November 16, 2018 - Vegetables and salad may include bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics
November 16, 2018 - Endocrine Society chooses four Diabetes Caucus leaders as winners of Diabetes Champion Award
November 16, 2018 - Brain and muscle cells found within kidney organoids
November 16, 2018 - Person’s sex hormones may play key role in trauma survival, finds study
November 16, 2018 - PTEN Genetic Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information
November 16, 2018 - Toxic metal pollution linked with development of autism spectrum disorder
November 16, 2018 - Calcified nodules in the retina increase risk for progression to late stages of AMD
November 16, 2018 - ZEISS teams up with arivis AG to offer complete 3D imaging solutions
November 16, 2018 - Georgia State professor receives $1.2 million grant to study how the brain controls eating behavior
November 16, 2018 - Specific bacterial toxins reduce number of cells suppressing immune response
November 16, 2018 - Review by ID physician improves outcomes for outpatient parenteral antimicrobial therapy
November 16, 2018 - Conditions that produce signs similar to arthritis
November 16, 2018 - New artificial intelligence-based method predicts treatment effectiveness
November 16, 2018 - AHA: Dapagliflozin Noninferior to Placebo for MACE in T2DM
November 16, 2018 - Surgery remains best treatment for appendicitis, Stanford study finds
November 16, 2018 - Non-surgical fistula creation system Ellipsys becomes key focus of attention at CiDA
November 16, 2018 - Researchers find no link between ‘allergy friendly’ dogs and lower risk of asthma
November 16, 2018 - Researchers elucidate new rules of connectivity of neurons in the neocortex
November 16, 2018 - Treating children with ‘bubble baby disease’
November 16, 2018 - Nexus announces availability of Arsenic Trioxide Injection in the US
November 16, 2018 - Researchers find metabolite shuttle between cells in the liver that may combat tissue fibrosis
November 16, 2018 - AHA: PTSD Common Among Those Who Suffer Tear in the Aorta’s Wall
November 16, 2018 - Many RA patients’ pain related to central nervous system
November 16, 2018 - Changes in Himalayan gut microbiomes linked to diet
November 16, 2018 - Inhibition of prostaglandin E2 enhances ability to combat infectious colitis
November 16, 2018 - Chronic dry eye can slow reading rate and disrupt day to day tasks
November 16, 2018 - Researchers develop new drug molecule that inhibits inflammation
November 16, 2018 - Dementia symptoms peak in winter and spring, study finds
November 16, 2018 - Stanford tobacco researcher weighs in on JUUL
November 16, 2018 - Increasing omega-3 fatty acid intake during pregnancy reduces risk of premature birth, review finds
November 16, 2018 - Researchers find no link between infants waking up at night and later developmental problems
November 16, 2018 - Both parents and children agree about confidential medical services
November 16, 2018 - FDA warns against use of unapproved pain medications with implanted pumps
November 16, 2018 - Precision medicine-based approach to slow or reverse biologic drivers of Alzheimer’s disease
November 16, 2018 - Study provides new insight into norovirus outbreaks, may help guide efforts to develop vaccines
November 16, 2018 - Inexpensive, portable air purifier could help protect the heart from pollution
November 16, 2018 - New 15-minute scan could help diagnose brain damage in babies up to two years old
November 16, 2018 - Deep brain stimulation not effective for treating early Alzheimer’s
November 16, 2018 - Traditional chemotherapy superior to new alternative for oropharyngeal cancers | News Center
November 16, 2018 - What This Pond Protist Does With Its Genome Will Astound You
November 15, 2018 - Researchers develop tool that speeds up analysis and publication of biomedical data
November 15, 2018 - Scientists identify mechanism used by lung cancer cells to obtain glucose
November 15, 2018 - Abnormalities in development of the brain could be involved in onset of autism, finds new study
November 15, 2018 - Soy protein equally effective as animal protein in building muscle strength
November 15, 2018 - American Academy of Pediatrics, Nov. 2-6
November 15, 2018 - Dopamine drives early addiction to heroin
November 15, 2018 - Variance in gut microbiome in Himalayan populations linked to dietary lifestyle | News Center
November 15, 2018 - Reducing Cardiovascular Disease: The Amish Way
November 15, 2018 - King’s researchers launch charter to guide organizations to engage abuse survivors in research
November 15, 2018 - Enable Injections enters into development agreements with UCB and Apellis Pharmaceuticals
November 15, 2018 - TGen North collaborates with NARBHA Institute to advance human health
November 15, 2018 - Researchers discover molecular basis for therapeutic actions of an African folk medicine
November 15, 2018 - Human Cell Atlas study of early pregnancy shows how mother’s immune system is modified
November 15, 2018 - New guidelines for detecting and managing sarcopenia to be launched in the UK
November 15, 2018 - Researchers explore role of dietary composition on energy expenditure
November 15, 2018 - Elsevier launches Entellect™ Platform, unlocking value by creating AI-ready life sciences data
November 15, 2018 - Now that cannabis is legal in Canada, let’s use it to tackle the opioid crisis
November 15, 2018 - In the Spotlight: At the intersection of tech, health, and ethics
November 15, 2018 - Traditional Glaucoma Test Can Miss Severity of the Disease
November 15, 2018 - Researchers directly connect activities of genes with instinctive behavior in male cichlids
November 15, 2018 - Salk researchers report new methods to identify AD drug candidates with anti-aging properties
November 15, 2018 - St. Jude Hospital announces availability of largest collections of leukemia samples
November 15, 2018 - Attenua Announces First Patient Treated in Phase 2 Clinical Trial in Chronic Cough with Bradanicline
November 15, 2018 - Designing a novel cell-permeable peptide chimera to promote wound healing
November 15, 2018 - NEI investigators combine two imaging modalities to view the retina in unprecedented detail
November 15, 2018 - Determining how hearts develop to better understand congenital heart defects
November 15, 2018 - Maverick immune cells can act independently to identify and kill cancer cells, finds research
November 15, 2018 - Advanced AI and big data methods to tackle dementia
Preventing HIV at the initial stages of infection

Preventing HIV at the initial stages of infection

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print
HIV infecting a human cell. Credit: NIH

In a project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, Doris Wilflingseder investigates the initial stages of HIV infection, a period when the immune system might still stop the virus.

“HIV has been intensively investigated in research labs all over the world for more than 30 years,” says Doris Wilflingseder, and throughout that time it has been resisting effective treatment. “The virus mutates incredibly fast and plays a cat-and-mouse game with our immune system,” adds Wilflingseder, a researcher at the Medical University of Innsbruck. The immunologist heads a research group working on describing the interaction of the virus with the immune system—before the immune deficiency spreads and the body might still defend itself against the virus.

Initial contact as pivotal point

It is known that HIV infiltrates the genetic material of T helper cells, which constitute an essential element of the body’s immune response—and that makes the virus so dangerous. Instead of effectively fighting the intruder, these cells are exploited by the virus and thus support the virus attack until the immune system finally breaks.

“Our approach considers the initial contact between immune cells in the mucosa and the pathogens to be the pivotal point,” explains the scientist. She places her bet on the complement system, the part of the innate immune system which can immediately destroy pathogens. “This part of our immune defence system is not taken into account by most other research teams, although it is a key element in the acute infection phase and can contribute to a successful fight against the virus,” explains Wilflingseder. Basically, the complement system coats the invading HI-virus, thus marking it as such for the immune cells. Dendritic cells are then able to perceive the virus as an intruder and spring into action. These sentinels of the skin and mucosa apprehend anything they perceive as a foreign substance and deliver their prey “free of charge” to T helper and killer T cells.

“Our trials and investigations have illustrated that complement-coated HIV is detected more readily by dendritic cells and, subsequently, more efficiently battled by effector cells than a virus that carries no immunological marker.”

On the basis of these results from cell cultures, a therapeutic vaccine might, in principle, be conceivable—in principle only, because the devil is in the details. In this case, it is the fact that the window of opportunity is only open for two weeks. “After that time, we see the emergence of HIV-specific antibodies that recognise the virus but do not neutralise it in that time span. In this way, the immune response conveyed by the dendritic cells is changed again, since other receptors get stimulated on the cells,” notes Wilflingseder.

“Right now, our research aims at gaining a better understanding of the immune system and these coating processes specifically at the beginning of the infection. We hope this will help us to find ways of strengthening the immune system even during the chronic phase of HIV infection,” says Wilflingseder, putting any premature hopes for treatment into perspective.

The potential of new models

The researcher does see definite success and progress in another field. Doris Wilflingseder started and refined her investigations with the help of cell cultures. “Cell cultures are often very simple. They have none of the more complex structures we find in different types of tissue,” she summarises. For a long time, scientists skirted this disadvantage by using animal testing. “But now we are establishing really good 3-D cell culture models. Lab-grown 3-D structures and organoids increase our chances even further.”

The researcher is convinced that animal testing is not only dubious but also substitutable in many cases. “I collaborate closely with physiologists and bio-informatics experts on developing 3-D cultures.” Wilflingseder contributes her expertise and instinctive understanding of 3-D cultures to this process. “Knowing intuitively when to change the media and when to take samples is important.” Quite frequently, confirms the scholar, the right time does not follow a regular pattern. In order to suss it out one needs experience and creativity. “It’s comparable to cooking. It is striking that people who can cook and bake also have a good instinct for cell cultures.” The new models provide a better way, and, even more importantly, a method involving the human immune system, of investigating cancer and infections in a more relevant system.


Explore further:
Zika-related nerve damage caused by immune response to the virus

More information:
P. Chandorkar et al. Fast-track development of an in vitro 3D lung/immune cell model to study Aspergillus infections, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-11271-4

Wilfried Posch et al. Complement-Opsonized HIV-1 Overcomes Restriction in Dendritic Cells, PLOS Pathogens (2015). DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1005005

Doris Wilflingseder et al. Immediate T-Helper 17 Polarization Upon Triggering CD11b/c on HIV-Exposed Dendritic Cells, The Journal of Infectious Diseases (2015). DOI: 10.1093/infdis/jiv014

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles