Study: Removing cholesterol from HIV boosts second immune response

Researchers at the Imperial College London and Johns Hopkins University have discovered a new method that prevents HIV from weakening a patient's immune system.

According to their research, the overcharged initial innate immune response to HIV weakens the body's immune system and its future defences against the virus. However, that first wave of defense can be stymied by removing cholesterol from HIV's membrane. Then, the adaptive immune response, which is powered by T cells, is stronger.

"It's like revving your car in first gear for too long. Eventually the engine blows out," says Dr. Adriano Boasso, the first author of the study, published in Blood. "This may be one reason why developing a vaccine has proven so difficult. Most vaccines prime the adaptive response to recognise the invader, but it's hard for this to work if the virus triggers other mechanisms that weaken the adaptive response."

Boasso and her colleagues used beta-cyclodextrin to remove the cholesterol from the membrane, a release states. The resulting inactive virus will be studied as a potential vaccine candidate.

- read the release