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New combination immunotherapy plus ART expand innate cells critical to controlling HIV

Researchers have determined a combination #immunotherapy of IL-21 and IFNα when added to antiviral therapy (ART) is effective in generating highly functional NK cells that can help control and reduce simian immunodeficiency virus (#SIV) in animal models.

ART is the current leading treatment for HIV/AIDS. It is capable of reducing the virus to undetectable levels, but is not a cure and is hampered by issues such as cost, adherence to medication treatment plan and social stigma.

To reduce reliance on ART, the Yerkes, Emory and Institut Pasteur research team worked with 16 SIV-positive, ART-treated rhesus macaques. In most nonhuman primates (NHPs), including rhesus macaques, untreated SIV infection progresses to AIDS-like disease and generates NK cells with impaired functionality. This is in contrast to natural primate hosts of SIV, which do not progress to AIDS-like disease (Huot et al., Nature Communications, 2021). Determining why natural hosts do not progress or how to stop the progression is a critical step in halting HIV in humans.

The researchers compared ART-only treated animals with animals that received ART, IL-21 and IFNα to evaluate how the ART plus combination immunotherapy affected the amount of virus in the animals' tissue.

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