Woman's immune system may be key to HIV vax

An investigative team at Johns Hopkins has been studying a woman whose natural immunity has quelled the virus she was infected with 10 years ago. Researchers say that she is an 'elite suppressor:' her immune cells could hold the key to solving the vexing riddle of creating a vaccine for HIV.

"This is an extremely rare case of co-infection in a controlled, monogamous relationship, which showed us how a strong immune system in the elite suppressor kept the virus from replicating and infecting other cells," said Joel Blankson, the senior study investigator and infectious disease specialist.

The woman's CD-8 T cells were able to stall roughly 90 percent of HIV replication, a duplicate of the virus that affects her husband. The researchers want to learn what kind of cytokines--immune system signaling proteins--are made by her T cells. They are also interested in learning more about why they're seeing odd activity in her human leukocyte antigen system.

- check out the press release

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