Investigators have been trying to find a way not only to prevent HIV infection but to cure current infections. A roadblock to the goal of a cure is that the virus becomes latent in CD4+ cells and effectively hides in the body to avoid an immune response. David Margolis’s group, in collaboration with Alan Perelson’s lab in Los Alamos, has been trying to understand the persistence of HIV infection despite treatment with antiretroviral drugs. New data published in PNAS (June 12, 2012) describe the results of treating recently HIV-infected individuals (prior to antibody generation) with antiretroviral therapy. Therapy at that time lowers the number of latently infected cells. However, these data also pointed to a small population of extremely stable latently infected cells that are established regardless of antiretroviral treatment.
In July 25th's issue of Nature, David is the senior author of a study identifying a promising drug that may activate the virus in these latent cells, exposing them to immune elimination. Click here to read a Nature News & Views article about this work.