Radioimmunotherapy a cure to HIV in conjunction to antiretroviral therapy

A new research recommends focusing on HIV with radioimmunotherapy could eliminate HIV from infected cells. If given in combination with highly active antiretroviral treatment, it may form the basis of a cure. Although highly active antiretroviral therapy kills HIV in the bloodstream, it does not entirely remove it from the body because virus can stay in infected cells and replicate. Researchers provided their outcomes at the 99th Scientific Assembly and Yearly Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) in Chicago, this week.

Research leader Ekaterina Dadachova, professor of radiology and of microbiology & immunology, states that although there has been tremendous progress in HIV therapies that slow progression to AIDS, the search for a long sustained cure carries on. She describes:

“To combat HIV, we require a technique that will entirely remove all HIV-infected cells without harming non-infected cells.”

In radioimmunotherapy (RIT), which has been applied for a while to treat cancer, antibodies charged with radioactive isotopes focus on and eliminate cancer cells. The antibody chooses the particular type of cancer cell and the connected radioisotope delivers a lethal dose of radiation that kills the target cell, while leaving untargeted (healthy) cells unharmed.

HIV infection decreased to invisible levels

In earlier work, Prof. Dadachova had previously managed to use the strategy in the lab to target and eliminate human immune cells contaminated with HIV. At the conference, she and her co-workers provided the outcomes of a research in which they used the technique to treat blood samples from individuals contaminated with HIV.

The blood samples emerged from 15 HIV patients obtaining HAART treatment at the AIDS Center at Montefiore, the University Hospital for Einstein College and academic medical center. The outcomes revealed that RIT targeted and killed HAART-treated lymphocytes – types of white blood cells – and in most samples, decreased HIV infection to invisible levels. The group then went on to see if RIT could reach HIV-infected cells in the brain and CNS.

This would be a significant step due to the fact present antiretrovirals do not cross the blood-brain barrier very well, which is why so many HIV sufferers handled with HAART often have severe mental problems. For this check, they used a lab model of the blood-brain barrier made with human cells and identified that the same radioisotope-charged antibodies applied in previous studies could eliminate HIV-infected cells in the brain without damaging the barrier.

Prof. Dadachova says:

“We identified that radioimmunotherapy could kill HIV-infected cells both in blood samples that obtained antiretroviral therapy and within the CNS, demonstrating RIT provides real potential for being designed into an HIV cure.”

In another research published lately in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, scientists from Lund University in Sweden explain how they identified that an aggressive new HIV strain brings to AIDS more rapidly than other present strains.