Via press release from the Radiological Society of North America:
Researchers have used radioimmunotherapy (RIT) to destroy remaining human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected cells in the blood samples of patients treated with antiretroviral therapy, offering the promise of a strategy for curing HIV infection.
Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has transformed the outlook for patients infected with HIV by suppressing the replication of the virus in the body. However, despite the success of HAART in effectively reducing the burden of HIV, scientists believe reservoirs of latently infected cells persist in the body, preventing the possibility of a permanent cure.
In her study, Dr. Dadachova and a team of researchers administered RIT to blood samples from 15 HIV patients treated with HAART at the Einstein-Montefiore Center for AIDS Research.
RIT, which has historically been employed to treat cancer, uses monoclonal antibodies—cloned cells that are recruited by the immune system to identify and neutralize antigens. Antigens are foreign objects like bacteria and viruses that stimulate an immune response in the body. The antibody, designed to recognize and bind to a specific cell antigen, is paired with a radioactive isotope. When injected into the patient's bloodstream, the laboratory-developed antibody travels to the target cell where the radiation is then delivered.
"In RIT, the antibodies bind to the infected cells and kill them by radiation," Dr. Dadachova said. "When HAART and RIT are used together, they kill the virus and the infected cells, respectively."