HELPING HAND AGAINST HIV
Virus-specific T-helper cells are thought to be crucial for controlling HIV levels. This week Nature (VOL. 407 NO. 6803 DATED 28 SEPTEMBER 2000, pp. 523-526), Bruce Walker and colleagues at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, show that early treatment of HIV infection can boost this immune response.
Eight HIV patients stopped taking drug therapy and were carefully monitored. In all cases, their bodies could keep the viral numbers below a stable, manageable level — at least temporarily. Drug therapy was restarted in some patients whose viral load rose significantly, but over half are still keeping HIV in check some six months later.
Increased levels of both virus-specific T lymphocytes and T-helper cell responses were seen in all patients. This suggests that functional immune responses can be augmented during chronic HIV infection, the researchers say, showing the importance of drug treatment during early or acute HIV infection.
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(C) Nature press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza