Daily News Analysis

IISc. develops enzymes that can block HIV reactivation

2nd April, 2021 Science and Technology

Context: 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, which is required to keep the virus in check.
  • There is currently no way to eliminate HIV from a patient’s body completely, and 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.
  • When the levels of toxic molecules, such as hydrogen peroxide, increase in the host’s cells, leading to a state of increased oxidative stress, the virus gets reactivated and it emerges from hiding and begins replicating again.
  • 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.
  • Advantages of combining ART with the nanozymes, is that nanozyme can help in reducing the side effects caused by ART drugs.