Why some people control the virus without treatment


  • Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS, is caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which destroys immune defenses.
  • In 2017, about 37 million people were living with the virus and 940,000 died from it.

Rare HIV carriers, called “post-treatment controllers” or “PTCs,” are able to control infection once all antiretroviral therapy has been stopped.

new therapeutic strategies

Understanding the fundamental mechanisms controlling the immune response in these individuals is essential for developing vaccines against HIV and/or new therapeutic strategies that target remission of infection.

New French research published in Nature Communications has therefore studied the humoral immune response in some PTCs – that is, mediated by specific antibodies – in which transient episodes of virus activity have been observed. “The researchers demonstrated that their humoral immune response was both efficient and robust, which may contribute to the control of infection in the absence of treatment”. Explain to the teams of Institut Pasteur, Inserm, Epi-HP and ANRS.

two types of humoral immune response

More specifically, two types of humoral immune response have been identified: a strong and a weak one. The discovery of these two categories of humoral immune response, dependent on the PTC profile, sheds new light on the phenomenon of HIV control.

For Hugo Mouquet, Institut Pasteur researcher and principal investigator of the study, “These results suggest that the establishment of early antiretroviral treatment may facilitate optimal development of humoral immune responses, making it possible in some cases to counter viral rebound after treatment interruption”.

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