Research led by Dr. Marc-André Langlois describes an against-the-grain discovery that could show the way forward for HIV cure research.
Understanding HIV latency at the molecular level is crucial for efforts to eliminate the viral scourge that causes AIDS. Latent infected cell reservoirs—where the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) hides and persists in the bodies of infected patients in a kind of silent standby mode—are the reason why antiretroviral treatments never wipe out the virus.
In a nutshell, these latent reservoirs of HIV act as the biggest obstacle to curing the disease.
Now, in a rigorous new study led by uOttawa Faculty of Medicine virologist Dr. Marc-André Langloisnorth_eastexternal link, researchers are describing an against-the-grain discovery that is a potential game changer in the field. It has the potential to show the way forward for HIV cure research.
Published today in Nature Communicationsnorth_eastexternal link, the findings demonstrate that a family of host proteins long thought of as purely antiviral are sometimes also helping latent HIV find safe harbor in patients’ bodies.
Using cutting-edge technology and methodical assays in this project started in 2016, Dr. Langlois and his collaborators describe the impact of host-encoded proteins called APOBEC3 (A3). These proteins possess the ability to potently mutate viral DNA and restrict retroviruses like HIV as well as other types of viruses. But his team’s latest findings suggest that these proteins can also play another role outside of their traditional evolutionary one – and it’s not always in a patient’s favor.
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