Washington: In a new study, a group of investigators may have uncovered the key to the variation in the speed of AIDS progression among slow progressors with a gene called HLA-B*57 (B57).HLA-B*57 (B57) is an immune gene variant that is found in less than 5 percent of the general population but in 40 to 85 percent of slow progressors.According to investigators from the Multi-Center AIDS Cohort Study (MACS), a killer T-cell immune response that occurs early on in HIV infection and targets a section — or epitope — of the HIV protein called IW9.“Since the hope for a vaccine is that it would elicit immune control, the thought has been that understanding how B57 protection works would yield helpful lessons and principles for vaccine design,” Catherine Brennan, lead author of the study, said.“There have been a lot of efforts to understand how the immune response to HIV in B57 carriers is superior to the response in non-B57 carriers, but it has been hard to nail anything down conclusively,” Brennan said.HLA-B genes are known to work by activating killer T cells that recognize unique sections of proteins, or epitopes, but it has been a mystery which section or sections of HIV protein HLA-B57 and the killer T cells work through.
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