Undereducated immune cells get aggressive with HIV | Science News

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Undereducated immune cells get aggressive with HIV

Scientists uncover a mechanism that may explain some resistance to the AIDS virus

3:35pm, May 5, 2010

A new study suggests that a lack of education allows some people who have been infected with HIV to keep the virus in check.

Not education in the traditional sense; this inadequate schooling takes place in the thymus, where immune cells are taught to distinguish friendly cells from invaders.

People with one version of a protein called HLA-B*5701 have immune cells that never fully learn this task. A new study published online May 5 in Nature shows how these uneducated cells help keep HIV down. The discovery may one day be helpful in designing vaccines against HIV and other viruses.

An unusual ability crops up in people who have the special protein: Their immune systems are much better at latching on to the proteins of HIV and other viruses, reports a team of researchers led by Arup Chakraborty of MIT and Bruce Walker of the Ragon Institute in Charlestown, Mass. This ability to get a death grip on viral proteins, even when the virus mutates and change

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