A group of researchers from the French Institute Pasteur has taken a new step in the fight against the virus of AIDS (HIV) to have discovered a way to eliminate infected cells, according to a study published Thursday by Cell Metabolism.
The antiretroviral treatment used today is designed to block HIV infection, but it can not eliminate the virus from the body. The virus remains in the reservoirs, the immune cells of the CD4 T lymphocytes, the main targets that the HIV virus attacks.
However, the virus does not infect all types of CD4 cells and so far the reason for this was not well known. In this study, the Pasteur Institute scientists identified the characteristics of the different subpopulations of CD4, which are associated with HIV infection.
The more they differentiate or experience CD4 cells, the more they need to produce energy to perform their function. Experiments have shown that it is the cell’s metabolic activity and in particular its glucose consumption, that plays a key role in susceptibility to HIV infection. The virus is mainly directed to cells with high metabolic activity. To multiply, it sequesters the energy and the products provided by the cell.
This requirement constitutes a weakness for the virus and could be exploited to fight the infected cells. The scientists managed to block the infection thanks to inhibitors of metabolic activity that have already been investigated in cancer treatments.
The antiretroviral treatment currently used is designed to block. This research opens new ways for more definitive treatments against the HIV virus. In Colombia, 133,440 cases of HIV have been confirmed since 1985.