“Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes have gotten us one step closer to understanding and overcoming one of the least-understood mechanisms of HIV infection—by devising a method to precisely track the life cycle of individual cells infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
In a paper being published online today in Lab on a Chip, the laboratory of Gladstone Investigator Leor Weinberger, PhD, announced the development of a device that can pinpoint and track HIV inside CD4 T cells—the type of white blood cell that the AIDS virus targets. This development is particularly important for understanding ‘HIV latency,’ a state in which the virus goes dormant after the patient begins standard antiretroviral treatment. Current antiretroviral drugs do not kill HIV—they only keep it at bay—meaning that those with HIV must continue a lifetime of drug treatment so as not to develop AIDS. If they discontinue the drugs, the latent virus ‘wakes up’ within just a few weeks and begins an onslaught against the body’s immune system.
The breakthrough comes as the AIDS-researcher community is beginning to speak publicly about the possibility of curing HIV/AIDS. Understanding—and consequently interrupting—HIV latency is a key element in the effort to discover a cure for this devastating disease.”