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Recent HIV Reservoir Findings Presented

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January 18 2012

Over 200 scientists, clinicians and advocates met in St. Maarten to discuss progress to date in HIV cure research.

AIDS Research Alliance was the first organization to call and organize a conference exclusively for scientists to explore research on the HIV reservoirs. The International Workshop on HIV Persistence, Reservoirs and Eradication Strategies grew out of that movement. The fifth such conference was held in December 2011, attended by ARA Senior Clinical Research Scientist, Marisa Briones, PhD.

Over 200 scientists, clinicians and advocates met in St. Maarten to discuss progress to date in HIV cure research. The meeting was sponsored by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the French Agency for AIDS Research (ANRS). Over four days, international researchers presented on a variety of topics, including non-T cell reservoirs, models of HIV persistence, virological aspects of HIV persistence, the role of the immune system during persistence, the effects of drug treatment, and new eradication strategies. Some exciting research highlights include the following:

  • Paul Luciw (UC Davis): Used a nonhuman primate model of HIV latency to test a combination of prostratin (protein kinase C activator) and valproic acid (histone deacetylase inhibitor), with HAART. Treatment resulted in a reduction in viral RNA in tissue at the end of the study. The specific effects of combination treatment remain to be determined.

  • Andrea Savarino (Instituto Superiore di Sanita): Used nonhuman primate models to test the combination of HAART and auranofin and buthionine sulfoximine (BSO). Results show that combination approaches may indeed result in control of viral load.

  • Mayte Corias (Instituto de Salud Carlos III): Using a cellular model of HIV latency, a novel protein kinase C theta (PKCθ) inhibitor was tested to determine if it could decrease HIV-1 replication in T cells. Results indicated that inhibiting PKCθ resulted in delayed integration and transcription of the HIV-1 provirus suggesting inhibition of PKCθ as a possible adjuvant for HAART during primary infection.

  • David Margolis (UNC Chapel Hill): Preliminary findings from a clinical study testing Vorinostat as a latent reservoir activator in ART-suppressed HIV-1-infected patients were presented. Current data shows Vorinostat is well tolerated and able to increase HIV RNA levels.

  • Chin-Ho Chen (Duke University): Using a cellular model of HIV latency, a protein kinase C (PKC) agonist, gnidimacrin, was tested to determine its ability to activate latent HIV-1. Results showed that gnidimacrin was able to activate latent HIV-1, selectively kill persistently-infected cells and inhibit R5virus.

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