ImmTAVs Protein as a Cure for HIV
In another study
, headed by Professor Lucy Dorrell, MD, associate professor, senior clinical research fellow, honorary consultant at the Nuffield Department of Medicine, Oxford University, university researchers partnered with scientists from a biotechnology company in Oxfordshire, Immunocore Ltd, to “investigate the potency of novel engineered immune-mobilising T cell receptors-based drugs (‘ImmTAVs’), designed to clear HIV-infected cells,” according to a press release
Like galectin-9, ImmTAVs exposes latent cells to the immune system, which then attacks and kills them, using what the researchers call the “kick and kill” approach. The two-headed protein ImmTAV can detect HIV protein cells through a genetically engineered T-cell receptor, and bind to CD3 T-cell co-receptors, which are found on the CD8+ T-cells that can kill infected cells.
ImmTAV was used on HIV-infected cells from patients who were successfully treated with ART. After using ImmTAV, researchers saw that the CD8+ T-cells killed latent CD4+ T-cells, the main immune system cell that is targeted by HIV, according to Professor Dorrell. When healthy CD8+ T-cells were used in addition to the ImmTAV treatment, “up to 85% of the infected cells were removed,” while the use of healthy CD8+ T-cells alone did not yield any effects, “confirming the essential role of the ImmTAV,” explained Professor Dorrell. She speculated, “This may be because, despite long-term ART, there is some degree of generalised malfunction in CD8+ T cells that has not been fully repaired.” She stated that ImmTAV cannot be a standalone cure for HIV, but can certainly play a key role in eradicating the virus.