Working in collaboration with a team from the Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CRCHUM), researchers at the Laboratory of Antiviral Immunity of Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR) have found that genetic mutations affecting the capsid, the structure surrounding the HIV genome, make it possible for a protein called TRIM5α to trigger the immune system of elite controllers.
This discovery, recently published in PLOS Pathogens, sheds light on the role that TRIM5α plays in the human body. In elite controllers, the protein sets off a mechanism that protects against HIV-1, the type of HIV responsible for the global pandemic. "In most infected individuals, TRIM5α's triggering ability is so weak that it has no effect on the virus, but in elite controllers, TRIM5α seems to play a role in naturally inhibiting HIV-1," said lead author Natacha Mérindol, a postdoctoral researcher at the UQTR lab.
Vaccine - Cure - HIV-1 - Virus - Controllers
There is no vaccine or cure for HIV-1. That's why it's important to understand why the virus is naturally inhibited in elite controllers, said Mérindol, who works under the direction of UQTR medical biology professor Lionel Berthoux, head of the lab, and Dr.Cécile Tremblay, a professor at Université de Montréal's Faculty of Medicine and a clinical researcher at CRCHUM.
Elite controllers are HIV-infected people whose immune system performs better at fighting HIV-1 than in the vast majority of HIV patients. They are infected with the virus, but the infection is much weaker than usual. "They have very strong immune systems that can control the infection -- it's as if they were receiving treatment, even when they aren't," said Mérindol.
Patients - Role - Research - Generosity - Availability
"Our HIV-positive patients played an essential role in making this research possible and we would like to thank them for their incredible generosity and availability," said Tremblay, a microbiologist and infectious disease specialist at the CHUM. "It's...
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