Removing HIV from a patient’s body completely is inconceivable as of now but anti-HIV drugs have been developed and successful in avoiding the virus. However, the team observed and make an observation, fail at destroying HIV from infected cells.
According to the researchers, these “enzymes”, prepared from vanadium pentoxide nanosheets, work by reproducing a natural enzyme called glutathione peroxidase that enables reduce oxidative stress levels in the host’s cells, which is required to keep the virus in check.
The benefit is that the enzymes are strong inside biological systems and do not mediate any unwanted reactions inside the cells,” says Mukesh. “They are also quite easy to prepare in the lab,” Govindasamy Mugesh, Professor at the Department of Inorganic and Physical Chemistry.
The virus protects inside the host’s immune cells in a “latent” state and stably conserves its reservoir. When the levels of toxic molecules such as hydrogen peroxide increase in the host’s cells, leading to a state of increased oxidative stress, the virus gets ‘reactivated’ – it originates from hiding and begins replicating again,” an official statement issued by IISc Bengaluru.
The study, published in EMBO Molecular Medicine, was led by Amit Singh, Associate Professor and Wellcome Trust-DBT India Alliance Senior Fellow at the Department of Microbiology & Cell Biology and Centre for Infectious Diseases Research (CIDR).
It can be observed that a team guided by Singh had formulated a biosensor to measure oxidative stress levels in HIV-infected immune cells in real-time some years back. “We found that to come out of latency and reactivate, HIV needs very little oxidative stress,” Singh informed.
“We found that these nanosheets (that were prepared using vanadium pentoxide) were having some sort of direct effect where the expression of the host genes essential for virus reactivation is reduced,” Shalini Singh, first author and Research Associate at CIDR highlighted.
Although the enzymes were found to be harmless to normal cells in lab tests, Mukesh further explained that a need to understand if they can have other effects once they are introduced inside the body. “Where will they go? Which organs will they enter? How long will they stay in the body? We need to look at all these aspects,” he added.