Australian researchers have unveiled a new immunotherapy technique to help prevent the progression from HIV infection to AIDS. Details of the simple, cost-effective technique are published May 2nd in the open-access journal PLoS Pathogens.
There is an overwhelming need for effective immunotherapies for HIV, as current therapies are expensive, impractical, and often highly toxic. The authors, led by Professor Stephen Kent, propose a technique named OPAL therapy-Overlapping Peptide-pulsed Autologous CeLls-a reinfusion of fresh blood cells incubating with overlapping SIV peptides. The OPAL technique was successfully tested in animal trials for stimulation of immunity, control of virus levels, and prevention of AIDS.
Vaccination diminished the levels of virus 10-fold lower than in controls, and was shown to be durable for over one year past initial vaccination. Therefore, viral replication was shown to be prolonged and more manageable, resulting in fewer deaths from AIDS.
The study is the result of collaboration among researchers from the University of Melbourne, the National Serology Reference Laboratory, and the University of New South Wales. The researchers plan to conduct future OPAL-therapy clinical trials in HIV-infected humans.
De Rose R, Fernandez CS, Smith MZ, Batten CJ, Alcantara S, et al. (2008) Control of Viremia and Prevention of AIDS following Immunotherapy of SIV Infected Macaques with Peptide-Pulsed Blood. PLoS Pathog 4(5): e1000055. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000055