Investigators at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Cardiff University, UK have engineered T-cells which are able to recognize HIV-1 strains that typically fall under the radar. In the November 9, 2008 advanced online Nature Medicine publication of Control of HIV-1 immune espcape by CD8 T cells expressing enhanced T-cell receptor, researchers describe T cells that bonded more strongly and in a more aggressive manner so that fewer T cells were required to control HIV-1 infection.
It is hoped that clinical trials with the engineered T-cells will begin in 2009 to establish safety. If laboratory results can be translated effectively in the clinic, a powerful “disguise detection” therapy may emerge which could treat early-stage HIV-1 infections.
(Extracts from ScienceDaily, November 10, 2008 and Nature Medicine published online November 9, 2008; doi:10.1038/nm.1779)