New Light on HIV-1 Transcytosis

Researchers have long been working to find ways of eradicating HIV and finding a solution to the viral epidemic. Whether help comes in the form of a vaccine, new treatment or therapy, the goal is to figure out a way to stop transmission and infection. In light of certain scientific breakthroughs, there is promise. One study helped map out the actual transmission and infection of HIV-1 for the first time.

A recently concluded study followed HIV-1 on its journey from transmission from the genital tract to infection. By seeing how the virus traveled, changed and eventually infected its host, scientists hope to find a way to stop HIV before it spread. However, what they found was not what they had anticipated: Seeing as the fluid in the genital tract is acidic, scientists reasoned that lowering pH levels would somehow affect transmission. Also, scientists have always known the virus to be coated with antibodies, especially as it traveled. By neutralizing these antibodies and lowering pH levels, HIV-1 actually performed better. Transcytosis aided these changes almost twentyfold. This was unexpected, but new information is always a step towards finding a cure.

Researchers also found another aide in the transcytosis process: antibodies. A certain receptor was found that bound and then released immune complexes. This receptor binds when the pH level is acidic and releases a neutral pH. Traces of this particular receptor were later found in one the cells of the genital tract, proving that this theory is correct. Scientists now have new information that can allow them to continue in their quest to battle HIV.