Cancer Immunotherapy Could Fight HIV

Chimeric antigen receptors, typically studied for cancer immunotherapy, may treat HIV.

Findings from a recent study suggest that an experimental immunotherapy drug for cancer could also potentially be effective treating HIV.

In a study published by the Journal of Virology, antibodies in the drug were able to generate chimeric antigen receptors (CARS). These artificial T cells are engineered to create receptors targeted to kill cells containing viruses of tumor proteins. Chimeric receptors are the focal point of research for cancer immunotherapy.

It can also potentially be used to strengthen the immune system against HIV, after the virus leaves the body vulnerable to diseases.

“We took new generation antibodies and engineered them as artificial T-cell receptors, to reprogram killer T cells to kill HIV-infected cells,” said corresponding Otto Yang, PhD. “Others have used antibodies against cancer antigens to make artificial T-cell receptors against cancer and shown this to be helpful in cancer treatment.”

The study included 7 newly-discovered broadly neutralizing antibodies reengineered as artificial CAR-T cell receptors. Researchers discovered that all of the antibodies were able to make the T cells proliferate, kill, and suppress viral replication in cells infected with HIV.

The next step of their research is to test their findings in humans, the study concluded.