Division of Infection and Immunity


UCL researchers discover how HIV breaches host defences

25 January 2017

A research-team, led by Professor Ravi Gupta and Dr Petra Mlcochova recently identified how HIV is able to infect microphages despite the presence of a protective protein.

HIV on macrophage

The study, recently published in EMBO Journal, included researchers from the University of Oxford, King's College London and Emory University.

Macrophages make an antiviral protein, SAMHD1, which prevents HIV from replicating in these cells. The investigators found that there is a window of opportunity when this protein is switched off as part of a regularly-occurring process in macrophages. Why SAMHD1 gets switched off is yet to be determined, though the investigators hypothesise that SAMHD1 regulation may be required for repair of damaged DNA.

Critically the team discovered a treatment that can maintain macropahge defences, which could help contribute to a cure for HIV/AIDS.