There’s a breakthrough in the quest to find a permanent solution to HIV/AIDS through a combination of immunotherapy and ART (antiviral therapy). A news report revealed the Yerkes National Primate Research Center researchers determined that combining immunotherapy of Interleukin-21 (IL-21) and interferon-alpha (IFNa) with antiviral therapy effectively generates high functional natural killer (NK) cells.
The cells help control and reduce simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) in animal models. Yerkes researchers arrived at this conclusion alongside scientists from Institut Pasteur. The report noted that the immunotherapy and ART combination finding is key for creating additional treatment options to control HIV/Aids.
Currently, ART is the leading treatment for the immunodeficiency virus. It reduces the virus to undetectable levels but is far from a cure. Yerkes of Atlanta-based Emory University and Institute Pasteur worked with 16 SIV-positive ART-treated rhesus macaques for their study.
The researchers compared the animals treated with ART with those who received ART, IL 21, and IFNa. They evaluated how the ART plus combination immunotherapy affects the amount of virus in animal tissue. Justin Harper, Ph.D., said the result showed that rhesus monkeys treated with the ART plus combo showed enhanced antiviral NK cell responses.
Harper noted that the NK cells help clear cells in the lymph nodes (LN), known for harboring the virus and replicating it. He added that by targeting where the virus seeks refuge and limiting replication, they could control HIV.
Historically, HIV treatment has focused on how T cells impact immunity. Another researcher, Mirko Paiardini, Ph.D., said the results have opened the door to designing more treatment strategies to induce SIV and HIV remission in the absence of ART.
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