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Targeted irradiation: A new weapon against HIV?

Antiretroviral therapy can keep HIV infection in check and delay and ameliorate the symptoms of HIV/AIDS. However, the drugs do not manage to eradicate the virus completely; individuals have to stay on the drugs permanently. Preclinical studies in mice by Ekatarina Dadachova and colleagues (Albert Einstein College of Medicine) published in the international open-access journal PLoS Medicine now suggest a new strategy to locate and kill many if not all HIV-infected cells in the body.

Radioimmunotherapy refers to an approach pioneered by cancer researchers in which patients are injected with antibodies against specific molecules characteristic of cancer cells (or in this case, HIV-infected cells) which carry a radioactive isotope. The approach takes advantage of the antibody's ability to rapidly hone in on its target cells and deliver the radioactive payload which then selectively kills the target cells and any HIV particles within it.

The study included some test-tube experiments on HIV infected human white blood cells as well as experiments on HIV infected mice that were injected with the radioactive antibodies. The researchers found that HIV infected white blood cells were successfully killed by radioactive antibodies that had been developed against specific proteins in the HIV particle that are routinely displayed at the surface of infected cells.

Two different types of antibodies and two different types of radioactive payload were tried. Both antibodies were very effective in targeting HIV infected cells, but one type of radioactive tag (213-Bismuth) was more efficient in killing the HIV-infected target cells than the other (188-Rhenium).

Then, mice were infected with HIV and treated with the radioactive antibodies (these particular mice had a deficient immune system, which means that they can be infected with the HIV virus that normally does not infect mice). The number of HIV infected cells was reduced in the treated m
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Contact: Andrew Hyde
press@plos.org
44-122-346-3330
Public Library of Science
6-Nov-2006


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