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HIV Pathogenesis Re-defined, Up-close and in Real-time

On the second morning of the HIV Research for Prevention meeting in Madrid, Spin, attendees were dazzled by the visual images in Thomas Hope’s detailed research into the earliest stages of HIV pathogenesis, which totally reset my understanding of acute infection and the speed with which HIV spreads through the body before it is finally detectable in the blood. By studying non-human primate mucosal-challenge models and human tissue explant cultures utilizing whole animal PET/CT and PET/MRI imaging, fluorescent microscopy to visualize individual cells, virions, and tissue structure, and electron microscopy to directly visualize individual virions, Dr Hope and his group gained novel insights into the earliest events of HIV transmission and dissemination. As soon as 48 hours post challenge, foci of replication at the portal of transmission could be identified, providing novel insights into the early targets of transmission and revealing a highly dynamic environment where the spectrum of target cells swiftly changes in the face of rapidly emerging innate host responses. These same methods, he pointed out, can be utilized in future studies to determine how the dynamics of the early transmission at mucosal sites are altered by different prevention modalities, in efforts to optimize interventions that can be broadly implemented to slow the ongoing HIV pandemic.

Reference: Hope TJ. Visualizing HIV Transmission and Prevention, HIV Research for Prevention (HIVR4P) Conference, Madrid, oral presentation PL02.01, 2018.

Source: Reporting from Madrid for PRN News: James Braun, DO

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