Breaking News
December 17, 2017 - New Insight on Killer Fungus Threatening Bats
December 17, 2017 - Early Atherosclerosis Defies ‘Normal’ Cholesterol
December 17, 2017 - CRF1 stress receptor is regulator of mast cell activity during stress
December 17, 2017 - CREST Failed to Dampen Enthusiasm for Carotid Stenting in Elderly
December 17, 2017 - Rising levels of HIV drug resistance
December 17, 2017 - Aging brain’s failure to coordinate deep-sleep brainwaves makes older adults forget
December 17, 2017 - Rural Workers Have Higher Exposures to COPD-Causing Pollutants
December 17, 2017 - Don’t Delay Hip Fracture Surgery. Here’s Why: MedlinePlus Health News
December 17, 2017 - NIH launches HIV prevention trial of long-acting injectable medication in women
December 17, 2017 - Op-Ed: Get Ready for a Tsunami of ECGs
December 17, 2017 - Observation care may save more than thought
December 17, 2017 - Scientists explore effectiveness of action video games to combat dyslexia
December 17, 2017 - Teens Acting Badly? Smog Could Be to Blame
December 17, 2017 - FDA Says ‘Yes’ to Short-Acting Insulin Admelog
December 17, 2017 - Vaping popular among teens; opioid misuse at historic lows
December 17, 2017 - Lower Urinary Symptoms Occur in Almost All Patients with SSc
December 17, 2017 - Genetic mutation in extended Amish family in Indiana protects against aging and increases longevity (Update)
December 16, 2017 - Butler Hospital launches international Alzheimer’s disease prevention study
December 16, 2017 - iMedicalApps: Virtual Reality Boosts Self-Confidence for Med Students
December 16, 2017 - Researchers validate five new genes responsible for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
December 16, 2017 - New genetic analysis of candidiasis reveals surprising fungal sex secrets
December 16, 2017 - New high precision machine-learning model could help accelerate drug discovery
December 16, 2017 - Groundbreaking gene therapy trial brings cure for hemophilia closer
December 16, 2017 - Racial Differences Seen in IgG4 Disease
December 16, 2017 - Treacher Collins Syndrome
December 16, 2017 - New approach to tracking how deadly ‘superbugs’ travel could slow their spread
December 16, 2017 - Muscle paralysis may promote breakdown of bones
December 16, 2017 - WSU scientists create injectable dye to track progression of diseases
December 16, 2017 - Kaiser Permanente delivers clot-busting drugs to stroke patients more than twice as fast as national rates
December 16, 2017 - Some Great Holiday Foods for Weight Loss
December 16, 2017 - Shared Decision-Making Strategies for Lung Ca Screening Get High Marks
December 16, 2017 - Lactic acid bacteria can protect against Influenza A virus, study finds
December 16, 2017 - Cancer immunotherapy’s effectiveness may depend on patient’s genetic makeup
December 16, 2017 - Researchers explore patient-doctor conversations, best practices linked to opioid tapering
December 16, 2017 - ‘Virtual child’ to help professionals learn key techniques to treat children with autism
December 16, 2017 - IU scientists discover way to make drug treatment more successful against malaria
December 16, 2017 - Prostate cancer researchers find significant disparities between two liquid biopsy providers
December 16, 2017 - ED-Diagnosed Lung Ca Patients Worse Off: Clin Onc News Report
December 16, 2017 - Calcium in Urine Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information
December 16, 2017 - Pregnancy-related conditions taken together leave moms—and dads—at risk
December 16, 2017 - Research uncovers mechanism implicated in defective function of tumor-associated dendritic cells
December 16, 2017 - OncoBreak: Stubborn Racial Disparities; Paid Medical Leave & Chemo; DIY Gene Tests
December 16, 2017 - Critical link between obesity and diabetes has been identified
December 16, 2017 - Transfusion dependence reduces access to high-quality end-of-life care for leukemia patients
December 16, 2017 - Porvair and Suzhou Tianlong Bio to develop epigenetic analysis technologies
December 16, 2017 - FDA Approves Ixifi (infliximab-qbtx), a Biosimilar to Remicade
December 16, 2017 - Morning Break: Trump to Get Check-Up; Cancerous Transplant; Death Knell for MIPS?
December 16, 2017 - First transcatheter implant for diastolic heart failure successful
December 16, 2017 - ‘Sushi-like’ nanodiscs provide structural snapshots of misfolding proteins
December 16, 2017 - Inherited gene variation may be to blame for poor survival of patients with early-onset breast cancer
December 16, 2017 - Sign-up deadline is Friday, but some people may get extra time
December 16, 2017 - Higher Booze Taxes Might Pay Off for Public Health
December 16, 2017 - Regular Activity in Midlife Spares Joints in Women
December 16, 2017 - Rain May Not Cause Achy Joints After All: MedlinePlus Health News
December 16, 2017 - MedDiet adherence doesn’t affect acute heart failure mortality
December 16, 2017 - HKBU experts develop new generation of smart anti-cancer drug molecules
December 16, 2017 - Chronic Kidney Disease Audit finds wide variations in coding of CKD patients in primary care
December 16, 2017 - Scientists use nanoparticles to fight Mucoviscidosis
December 16, 2017 - Increasing physical activity decreases risk of death from lymphoma
December 16, 2017 - Fear compromises the health, well-being of immigrant families, survey finds
December 16, 2017 - Rejected antibiotic candidate could be worth a second look, research finds
December 16, 2017 - Is Nation on the Right Track to Combat Opioid Crisis?
December 16, 2017 - Arthritis No Longer Just a Disease of the Old: MedlinePlus Health News
December 16, 2017 - Study reveals biology behind why muscle stem cells respond differently to aging or injury
December 16, 2017 - Family members without inherited mutation have increased risk of melanoma
December 16, 2017 - Researchers reveal previously unknown mechanism that inhibits cells’ ability to develop into tumors
December 16, 2017 - Studies highlight potential of fMRI applications to detect, treat epilepsy in children
December 16, 2017 - Active surveillance proposed as first-line approach to manage patients with low-risk PMC of the thyroid
December 16, 2017 - Patients’ life values affect their attendance at medical treatment for pelvic-floor dysfunction
December 16, 2017 - Experts consider hazards of antibiotic resistances to be high
December 16, 2017 - Study finds erectile dysfunction as risk factor for early cardiovascular disease
December 16, 2017 - Amber-tinted glasses may reduce insomnia severity
December 16, 2017 - Arthritis Drug Seen Lowering GvHD Risk
December 16, 2017 - Atoh1, a potential Achilles’ heel of Sonic Hedgehog medulloblastoma
December 15, 2017 - Cornell engineers develop new method to measure vital signs using radio waves
December 15, 2017 - Rutgers studies highlight need for salon clients, workers to protect themselves from health risks
December 15, 2017 - FDA Approves Nucala (mepolizumab) for Eosinophilic Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (Churg-Strauss Syndrome)
December 15, 2017 - Morning Break: CVS Buying Aetna; Uterus Transplant Baby; Your Brain on Drugs, Redux
December 15, 2017 - Social phobia linked to autism and schizophrenia
December 15, 2017 - Timestrip technology helping to prevent missed vaccinations
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