New test finds hidden viral reservoirs
A new HIV test can pinpoint the size and location of hidden viral reservoirs, a critical breakthrough in the hunt for a cure.
The UNMC innovation could help answer an essential question that has long eluded researchers everywhere: How do viral reservoirs persist in the body?
Several studies have attempted to identify these reservoirs, but the topic remains an ongoing debate.
Anti-retroviral therapy, or ART, allows HIV-infected individuals to lead long, healthy lives, but the virus is always there, hiding. ART keeps the virus in check, but patients must adhere to a strict treatment regime for the rest of their lives. Stopping ART therapy leads to HIV reemergence. Patients on ART need their viral load, or amount of virus in the body, consistently measured to monitor treatment efficacy. Unfortunately, current tests measure viral loads, but with the following limitations:
- Low dynamic range
- Use of bulk HIV infected cells
- Under- or overestimate the size of the reservoir
HIV researchers Siddappa Byrareddy, PhD, and Arpan Acharya, PhD, created a more sensitive HIV test. They wanted to quantify active and latent HIV reservoirs at the single-cell level: An essential step towards a cure.
Their new HIV test can detect where the viral reservoirs are and measure the size of the reservoir down to a single-cell level. The test uses cutting-edge CRISPR-Cas13 technology to differentiate if a few highly active cells or many moderately active cells produce the viral transcripts.
Another essential aspect of this assay is distinguishing between latent and actively replicating viruses. Detecting active viral replication allows clinicians and researchers to identify viral resistance to treatment, prescribe the best treatment regime, and guide new therapy development.
The new test is also a research tool to study the simian immunodeficiency virus, an HIV-like virus that infects monkeys and apes. Simian immunodeficiency virus causes a disease similar to AIDS, and its research often provides insights into its close relative, HIV.
To discuss licensing opportunities contact Lisa Carlson, PhD, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-315-0543.