New study co-authored by IVI Director General Jerome H. Kim provides clues to early T cell immune responses in acute HIV infection

2017-02-22 03:46

  • Study finds a window of opportunity for CD8+ T cells to reduce overall number of HIV-infected cells


A new study has shown that potent HIV-specific CD8+ T cells that are able to kill HIV-producing cells and reduce the seeding of the HIV reservoir are only detected at peak viremia in acute HIV infection. Findings from the study, which was led by the U.S. Military HIV Research Program (MHRP) of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, were recently published in Science Translational Medicine.

HIV-specific CD8+ T cells are white blood cells that kill cells infected with HIV.  CD8+ T cells play a critical role in controlling HIV viremia and could be important in reducing overall numbers of HIV-infected cells in approaches to eradicate HIV.

Researchers tracked immune response through three distinct acute HIV infection (AHI) stages. They found that the HIV-specific CD8+ T cells generated during AHI stage 1 and 2, prior to peak viremia, are delayed in expanding and acquiring effector functions, meaning they are less effective at controlling HIV replication. The viral reservoir poses a critical challenge in the quest to cure HIV infection since it contains cells in which the HIV virus can lie dormant for many years, thereby avoiding elimination by antiretroviral therapy

Prior to his tenure as IVI Director General, Dr. Jerome H. Kim was the Principal Deputy and Chief of the Laboratory of Molecular Virology and Pathogenesis at MHRP and Project Manager for the HIV Vaccines and Advanced Concepts Evaluation Project Management Offices, U.S. Army Medical Material Development Activity. From 2004 to 2009, he led the Army's Phase III HIV vaccine trial (RV144), the first demonstration that an HIV vaccine could protect against infection, as well as subsequent studies that identified laboratory correlates of protection and sequence changes in breakthrough HIV infections after vaccination.

For more information about the study, please visit: