IISc Develops Enzymes That Can Block HIV Reactivation
Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) have developed artificial enzymes that can successfully block reactivation and replication of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in the host’s immune cells. Made from vanadium pentoxide nanosheets, these nanozymes work by mimicking a natural enzyme called glutathione peroxidase that helps reduce oxidative stress levels in the host’s cells.

The release said there is currently no way to eliminate HIV from a patient's body completely. Anti-HIV drugs are only successful in suppressing the virus but fail at eradicating HIV from infected cells. "The virus hides inside the host's immune cells in a latent state and stably maintains its reservoir"

The researchers prepared ultrathin nanosheets of vanadium pentoxide in the lab and treated HIV-infected cells with them. The sheets were found to reduce hydrogen peroxide just as effectively as the natural enzyme and prevent the virus from reactivating. “We found that these nanosheets were having some sort of direct effect where the expression of the host genes essential for virus reactivation is reduced,” explained a researcher.

When the team treated immune cells from HIV-infected patients undergoing antiretroviral therapy (ART) with the nanozymes, latency was induced faster and subsequent reactivation was suppressed when therapy was stopped, indicating that combining the two was more effective, she added. Elaborating further on the other advantages of combining ART with the nanozymes, a researcher said nanozyme can help in reducing the side effects caused by ART drugs.

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