Albert Einstein College of Medicine Cures HIV

Albert Einstein

The Albert Einstein College of Medicine, has presented new developments on radiommunotherapy to find cures for HIV, at an annually held meeting, for the Radiological Society of North America. Researchers have found that radiommunotheraphy (RIT), holds the potential to remove lingering HIV infections.

Globally, millions of adults are affected by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). All patients receive antiretroviral therapy to try and combat the infection. This works to keep the virus from duplicating. However, it does not provide a cure for people with the disease, as some of the HIV-infected cells remain in the body.

Reports have stated that they are still looking for a cure to completely eliminate all the HIV-infected cells, rather than just slowing their progression. However, the difficulty comes with attempting to find a way to do this, without damaging healthy cells.

RIT, which became famous for treating cancer, is where radioactive isotopes attach themselves to antibodies. They then select a target, and destroy cells. After these antibodies have transported the radioisotope to their target, the radioisotope projects a lethal dose of radiation. Targeted cells are such that are infected with cancer, or disease-causing microbes.

The research presented by Albert Einstein College of Medicine, has developed radiommunotherapy to find a cure for HIV, by looking at Dr. Dadachova’s previous work, which showed that RIT could successfully target without harming healthy cells. It proves that RIT could successfully target and eliminate human immune cells infected with HIV.

During the experiment, blood samples were gathered from 15 HIV patients, who had been treated with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). The results showed that RIT was able to selectively kill HAART-treated lymphocytes. This enabled the HIV infection to be reduced to untraceable levels in most samples.

Dr. Dadachova stated that radioimmunotherapy could not only destroy HIV-infected cells in blood samples, but also within the central nervous system. This, she explained, offers a real potential for the advancement of finding a cure for HIV.

As the Albert Einstein research team try to find cures for HIV, they also investigated whether RIT could reach infected cells within the brain and central nervous system. The anti-retroviral drugs that are currently used, do not sufficiently penetrate the blood-brain barrier. The blood-brain barrier is an arrangement of blood vessels that prevent detrimental substances passing into the brain, which is the reason many victims of HIV, treated by HAART, experience cognitive  impairment.

The team exhibited how the same radiolabeled antibodies used in previous investigations, could eliminate HIV-infected cells in the brain, without injuring the barrier. Radioimmunotherapy can therefore, kill HIV-infected blood cells that have received antiretroviral treatment, and cells within the central nervous system. This shows that RIT offers real potential for being developed into a cure for HIV.

It is a worldwide problem, and is commonly caught by having sex without a condom. It can be passed on by sharing needles or other injecting equipment, and can also be spread through a mother to her child during pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. The virus violates the immune system, and weakens the capacity to fight infections and disease.

The final stage is Aids, where the body is unable to fight off  life-threatening infections. However, with early diagnosis and effective treatment, many people escape this development. As the Albert Einstein College of Medicine make developments on Radiommunotherapy, a cure for the HIV epidemic may soon be provided.

By Melissa McDonald




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