Using viruses to fight viruses: new approach eliminates “dormant” HIV-infected cells
While Ottawa researchers are known for their work on cancer-fighting viruses, one team is applying these viruses to a new target: HIV.
Researchers at the University of Ottawa and The Ottawa Hospital have discovered that the Maraba virus, or MG1, can target and destroy the kind of HIV-infected cells that standard antiretroviral therapies can’t reach. This laboratory discovery was published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. If this technique works in humans, it might possibly contribute to a cure for HIV.
While daily medications keep the level of HIV virus in the blood low, there is currently no way to totally eliminate dormant HIV-infected cells from the body. If a person living with HIV stops taking antiretroviral medications, these hidden viruses rapidly rebound.
These latently HIV-infected cells are hard to target because they are not distinguishable from normal cells. Dr. Jonathan Angel and his team tried a new approach of identifying these dormant cells by using the MG1 virus. This virus attacks cancer cells that have defects in their interferon pathway, which makes the cells more vulnerable to viruses.