Wed, Oct 26, 2016 | updated 04:10 AM IST

Cancer-fighting immunotherapy may be useful against HIV

Updated: Jul 16, 2016 13:07 IST

Washington D.C, Jul 16 (ANI): According to a recent study, a type of immunotherapy that has shown promising results against cancer could also be used against HIV.

Researchers from the UCLA found that recently discovered potent antibodies can be used to generate a specific type of cell called chimeric antigen receptors, or CARs, that can be used to kill cells infected with HIV-1.

CARs are artificially created immune T cells that have been engineered to produce receptors on their surface that are designed to target and kill specific cells containing viruses or tumor proteins. Chimeric receptors are the focus of ongoing research into how gene immunotherapy can be used to fight cancer. But they could also be used to create a strong immune response against HIV, said corresponding author Dr Otto Yang.

"We took new generation antibodies and engineered them as artificial T-cell receptors, to reprogram killer T cells to kill HIV-infected cells," said Yang, adding "Others have used antibodies against cancer antigens to make artificial T-cell receptors against cancer and shown this to be helpful in cancer treatment."

While the receptors approach has been in use for almost 10 years to fight cancer, this is the first attempt to use the technique to treat HIV since 15 years ago, when experiments proved unsuccessful.

Yang notes that "what works in a test tube doesn't necessarily work in a person," so the next step is to find strategies to put these receptors into humans. But this therapy shows enough promise to move forward with further research.

The study appears in Journal of Virology. (ANI)