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Programming T cells to fight HIV is entirely possible.
- July 22, 2019
- Posted by: Wiley M. Wagner
- Category: Science
HIV is a truly terrible and destructive immune disease in which a person has a significantly weakened immune system, unable to cope with even the simplest health threats. However, at the beginning of this century, specialists studying the spectrum of immune-deficient syndromes were able to find out that less than 1% of patients are present among HIV patients whose CD8 immune cells can independently control the course of the disease and in fact do not allow it to spread – just the desire to find out which mechanisms behind this stand and led a team of researchers from the Pasteur Institute in Paris to a new study.
At the center of it was the theory that if in some artificial way the properties of these most immune CD8 cells — which in the “controlling” percentage of patients have increased activity — are enhanced, then specialists can potentially introduce such reprogrammed cells to those who cannot control the course HIV syndrome. During the long and very difficult studies, experts noticed that the main difference between CD8 cells in different groups of HIV-infected people is that they can get energy not only from glucose, but also from mitochondria enhanced in their activity.
So scientists have made several attempts to increase the activity of mitochondria of CD8 cells, so that they can effectively fight infected CD4 T-cells, which spread the disease. They used interleuk-15 as a reprogrammer – a special secretion of the immune system, and managed to achieve impressive results.
Scientists have indeed been able to effectively and without special problems reprogram CD8 immune cells in normal HIV patients in such a way that they can launch the enhanced work of mitochondria using interleukin-15 and individual molecular processes. As a result, a significant proportion of patients in whom genetically modified T cells were implanted began to show a significant degree of relief of their condition.