New research shows STI-HAART may 'teach' immune system to defeat HIV

November 16, 2000

Investigators at the Research Institute for Genetic and Human Therapy (RIGHT) report findings from pioneering HIV research in the November 24th issue of Science. The results represent a major advancement in understanding the role of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) based structured treatment interruptions (STI-HAART) in the management of HIV. The findings suggest that a fixed schedule of intermittent therapy may help to train the immune system to control HIV without the use of drugs.

In the first-ever randomized, controlled trial, researchers compared monkeys who received a fixed schedule of STI-HAART with monkeys who received continuous therapy. The animals treated with STI-HAART developed stronger immune response against the virus that in turn could control HIV after treatment discontinuation.

The introduction of HAART was a milestone in HIV treatment and has resulted in a more than 70 percent decrease in HIV/AIDS-related deaths. At the same time, long-term use of HAART suppresses natural immune response and has been associated with severe toxicity, problematic adherence rates and decreased quality of life. HAART also failed to eradicate HIV.

Immune control of HIV might represent a novel and more realistic goal. This breakthrough research uses a well-standardized model and provides a potential recipe for further research on the role of STI-HAART in restoring HIV-specific immunity after acute infection.
To arrange interviews, contact:
Sarah Townend


Miriam Vazquez

Franco Lori, MD and Julianna Lisziewicz, Ph.D.
Research Institute for Genetic and Human Therapy
Washington, DC and Pavia, Italy

Sensei Health

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