June 30, 2011
Resistant Mice Provide Clues About Successful Immune Response To Retroviruses
Although our body's defense mechanisms are usually capable of detecting and destroying many types of pathogens, some viruses are able to evade the immune system and make us sick. In particular, "retroviruses," such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), are notorious for eluding host immune defenses and causing disease. Now, a new study published by Cell Press online on June 30th in the journal Immunity identifies a key virus-sensing mechanism that is necessary for a successful immune response against infection with this particularly deadly type of virus. The research may help to guide the future design of more effective antiretroviral vaccines.
"The demand for producing highly efficient vaccines against HIV is great and the approaches currently available for making vaccines may not be relevant to retroviruses, as none of the trials conducted to date have been successful," explains the senior study author, Dr. Tatyana V. Golovkina, from the University of Chicago. "It is critical that we achieve a basic understanding of how the immune system detects and responds to retroviruses in order to apply this knowledge to the production of anti-retrovirus vaccines."
Taken together, the findings suggest that an efficient and sustained immune response to retroviruses is induced by sensing of the early stages of retroviral infection. "Although the precise mechanism of retroviral exposure to TLR7 is yet to be identified, our results provide definitive evidence that TLR7-dependent recognition is required for an efficient immune response against retroviruses," concludes Dr. Golovkina. "An understanding of the genetic mechanisms underlying retroviral resistance will help to drive design anti-retroviral vaccines that utilize inactivated viruses combined with targeting the immune pathways employed successfully in resistant organisms."
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