Repurposed Prescription Drug May Boost Immune Response to HIV

Adenosine deaminase could help activate the immune system to rapidly fight and eliminate HIV.

A repurposed prescription enzyme drug shows promise in helping the immune system fight against HIV.

In a study as published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, researchers looked at the drug adenosine deaminase (ADA), which could help activate the immune system to fight against HIV and eliminate it quickly. Additionally, the drug could help the immune system remember the virus to prevent future infection.

"We hope this study puts ADA in the spotlight as a powerful immune modulator in vaccine strategies enhancing anti-HIV immune responses and limiting the need for life-lasting treatments," said researcher Núria Climent, PhD.

During the study, researchers examined the effects ADA had on the cells in both HIV-positive and HIV-negative patients.

They took dendritic cells, which come from blood cells, and exposed them to HIV-1 proteins or whole inactivated HIV-1 with and without ADA.

Next, researchers measured the degree of lymphocyte proliferation, cytokine secretion, and regulatory T cell generation.

The results of the study showed that when ADA was added, the drug lead to a reduction in regulatory T cell mediated suppression.

When looking further at the role ADA played, researchers found that it increased the production of CD4+ responder T cells, in CD8+ T cell proliferation, and T cell memory generation.

There was also an increase in the secretion of immunologically relevant Th1 cytokines.

"We need to find new strategies that will empower the immune system towards long-term control of HIV infection," said Luis J. Montaner, DVM, MSc. "The availability of an approved drug that already targets the mechanisms described here ensures the quick translation of this work from the bench to the clinical."