Researchers Develop “Swiss Army Knife” Immunotherapy to “Kick and Kill” HIV

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health have developed an all-in-one immunotherapy approach that may potentially lead to a cure to HIV, according to UPMC.

The scientists have developed a way, called the “kick and kill” method, to kick HIV cells out of hiding in the immune system and kill them. The discovery was made in a lab using HIV-infected cells and published in EBioMedicine.

The researchers used dendritic cells, which are usually used in cancer immunotherapies, to induce the immune system to kill HIVcells. These cells were then engineered to seek out and activate the cells where HIV was hiding and kill them as well. Senior author Robbie Mailliard, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology at Pitt Public Health, called the method the “Swiss Army knife of immunotherapies.”

No clinical trials of the newly developed method have yet taken place, but the researchers say it’s a step towards one day developing an HIV vaccine.

“A lot of scientists are trying to develop a cure for HIV, and it’s usually built around the ‘kick and kill’ concept…” Malliard said. “There are some promising therapies being developed for the kill, but the Holy Grail is figuring out which cells are harboring HIV so we know what to kick.”

The research team is now seeking funding to begin human clinical trials.