Pitt breakthrough may improve HIV treatment

From the Triblive.com

A discovery about how HIV spreads through the human body could help doctors tame the virus in some infected patients, researchers say. Findings at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health show the disease moves slowly in people whose immune cells are low in cholesterol. That suggests HIV patients might live longer if researchers can regulate cholesterol metabolism in those cells, said lead author Giovanna Rappocciolo.

“We think it’s important because it’s a very new approach to the study of the HIV infection. I think it could be significant,” said Rappocciolo, an assistant professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology at Pitt. Her work with department Chairman Charles Rinaldo appears Tuesday in mBio, the journal of the American Society for Microbiology. Funded through the National Institutes of Health, their discovery caps several years of research focused on eight men in the Pittsburgh area.

The men are among 5 percent to 10 percent of the more than 1.1 million people in the United States living with HIV who can stay healthy for seven years — or longer — without conventional therapies, Rappocciolo said. Those patients had low cholesterol levels inside certain cells that spread HIV in the body, Rappocciolo and several Pitt colleagues found. Researchers relied on data assembled over 30 years through the Pitt Men’s Study, part of the NIH-supported Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study spanning four cities.

“Results like ours are the real payoff of the past three decades of meticulous data and specimen collection,” Rinaldo said in a statement. Rappocciolo said their department has received more than $70 million for research related to AIDS, the final stage of the HIV disease that severely inhibits the immune system. Rappocciolo stressed her findings do not mean that HIV patients with low-cholesterol diets are safeguarded.

Read more at triblive.com 

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