Immune system surprise hints at new strategy for fighting HIV

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The discovery of the innate immunity system’s role in mobilizing the body’s defenses against invading microorganisms has been long studied at Yale. Now in the Nov. 17 issue of the journal Nature Immunology, Yale researchers led by Margarita Dominguez-Villar and David Hafler have discovered a surprising twist to the story that may open a new avenue in the fight against HIV.

An immune system response to microbial invaders is triggered when a family of receptors found in immune cells called Toll-like receptors are activated by invaders.

To the surprise of the Yale team, the researchers found that when a Toll-like receptor inside the CD4 immune cells, which are regularly destroyed by HIV, are blocked, it actually depresses — not activates — an immune system reaction.

Researchers now want to investigate whether manipulating this receptor could combat HIV infection.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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Bill Hathaway: william.hathaway@yale.edu, 203-432-1322