PRESS RELEASE – Ragon faculty study finds combination of two drugs increases the vulnerability of HIV-1 reservoir cells to the immune system.

Date: February 29, 2024 By:

Ragon faculty Mathias Lichterfeld, MD, PhD, and Xu Yu, MD, have co-authored a paper published in Cell which found evidence that a combination of two drugs increases the vulnerability of HIV-1 reservoir cells to the immune system — which shows promising results in targeting and reducing the HIV-1 reservoir in people living with HIV.

Using samples provided by a Massachusetts General Hospital human clinical trial, the study found combined treatment with the histone deacetylase inhibitor panobinostat and pegylated interferon-a2a increased the immunological vulnerability of HIV-1 reservoir cells.

This treatment was found to transform the pool of HIV-1 reservoir cells by favoring certain types of HIV-1 proviruses over others. Specifically, the study found that the treatment led to an increase in HIV-1 proviruses integrated in specific genes and chromatin regions, while proviruses near certain molecular target sites were actively selected against. This suggests that the treatment can alter the composition of HIV-1 reservoir cells, potentially affecting the persistence of the virus.

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