The research, presented in the July issue of Nature Medicine, eventually might help researchers better understand and exploit potential weaknesses in HIV.
The researchers studied a large group of homosexual men who were enrolled in the Chicago component of the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study - an ongoing study of the natural and treated history of thousands of men infected with HIV - headed by Dr. Steven Wolinsky. The confidentiality of all individual study participants was preserved and the study itself was conducted in accordance with the highest recognized and accepted ethical standards.
Los Alamos researcher Bette Korber, Elizabeth Trachtenberg of Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute and colleagues examined the levels of AIDS virus and a type of T-cell in study participants. In healthy people, these "helper T-cells" help mount an immune response to an attacking organism. Since the AIDS virus attacks and destroys helper T-cells in humans - thereby limiting and eventually destroying a patient's ability to stop the virus from replicating - the number of T-cells within an individual person is an indicator of the progression of the disease; the fewer the T-cells, the greater the level of HIV infection. The researchers were able to track the progression of the disease and the viral load within study participants over time.
Korber, Trachtenberg and colleagues compared viral load and rates of progression to proteins contained on the surface of white blood cells of study participants. The proteins, called human leukocyte antigens (HLAs), perfor
Contact: James R. Rickman
DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory