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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UNC: Researchers Find Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors Used in the Reversal of Latent HIV Do Not Compromise Immune Function

New research shows that histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi), which may be used to reverse latent human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in resting CD4 T cells, do not negatively impact the function of natural killer (NK) cells or impair immunity of HIV-positive patients undergoing antiretroviral therapy (ART).

Dr. David Margolis, professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health and director of UNC’s HIV Cure Center, is co-author of the paper “In-vivo administration of histone deacetylase inhibitors does not impair natural killer cell function in HIV+ individuals,” which was published online March 15 in AIDS.

ART cannot target HIV in cells where the virus has become latent or dormant, which has made it difficult to find a cure for HIV. In order to eradicate HIV, latent virus must be reactivated to induce HIV-RNA and antigen expression for clearance from the body. However, a compromised immune system cannot effectively clear those antigens, making the development of a latency reversal agent without a negative impact on natural killer (NK) cells and the immune system vital to a true cure for HIV.

For this clinical trial, blood cells from HIV-positive participants receiving treatment with one of two drug compounds that inhibit histone deacetylases were evaluated to test the treatments’ impacts on the cells. The team found no impairment of NK cell function during treatment with either drug.

Dr. Margolis says the goal is to develop latency reversing treatments that will make the virus vulnerable and pair those with immunologic/clearance therapies to clear the formerly hidden, latent infections from the body. These findings show promise that HDACis, when introduced to trigger latency reversal, do so without putting a patient’s immune system in danger.

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