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HIV infection can be successfully managed with this vaccine; to be a reality soon

A special cell had been found out by the researchers, a type of regulatory lymphocyte called Treg cells, which might be protecting babies in the womb from contracting HIV even when the mother is infected.

Peter Kessler from the Emory University School of medicine said that finding out what protected the majority of babies could lead to ways to boost natural immune responses and make individuals resistant to HIV infection.

The fact that only a minority of the babies get affected by HIV though born to HiV+ mothers was baffling to the scientists. At present, antiretroviral drugs are used to manage HIV infection, it can’t prevent the infection. As the old saying, ‘Prevention is better than cure’, the scientists through the identification of Treg cells have paved a way actually to prevent this deadly infection.

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Comparing the babies born to an Hiv infected mother and to a mother who escaped the infection, the latter had a higher level of Treg lymphocytes in their blood. Lymphocytes are the fighters in the body which ensure immunity standing guard against bacteria and viruses. Treg Cells or Regulatory T cells form an important “self-check” in the immune system to prevent excessive immune reactions that could lead to tissue damage.

64 blood samples of HIV uninfected babies and 28 blood samples of HIV infected babies were examined by the researchers and found that Treg cell levels were higher in uninfected babies at the time of birth. In the Hiv infected infants, other Lymphocyte types were activated, which made their body susceptible to HIV infection. The HIV virus can only infect cells that are activated, so Treg may protect from HIV infection by suppressing activation of other lymphocytes.

Flow Cytometry, a technique used to differentiate cells based on the markers which they express on their surface, was used to analyse the stored blood.Regulatory T cells come in many forms with the most well-understood being those that express the markers CD4, CD25, and FOXP3.

Kessler said that even though the number of babies studied was relatively small, those findings indicated that Treg, by controlling immune activation, might lower the vulnerability of the babies to HIV or other chronic infections even before they were born.


The current researches on this Treg cells can help in the development of vaccines or other immune-based therapies that can be used together with medications to check the HIV spread or the mother to child infection.

At the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology’s annual meeting, the research had been presented.



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