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The GW Hatchet

AN INDEPENDENT STUDENT NEWSPAPER SERVING THE GW COMMUNITY SINCE 1904

The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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GW professor finds how some immune systems resist HIV

Not everyone exposed to HIV ends up with the virus, a GW professor found.

Individuals with T cells called viral infectivity factor, or Vif, that responded to a protein in HIV did not become infected. The study was co-authored by Doug Nixon, the chair of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Tropical Medicine and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this summer. proved the relationship between the immune system and risk for infection from exposure to the virus.

Nixon said the Vif response could be recreated for a future vaccine. Finding that response in HIV-negative individuals would be key in creating a vaccine, he said.

“For a very long time, people have been looking for an immunological model that can tell whether a person will become infected or not,” Nixon said. “And now we have found it.”

Nixon and professors from other universities analyzed blood samples from a study that tested whether or not an antiretroviral medication could prevent HIV infection, and proved the medication was successful. That study inspired Nixon to research a vaccine blocking HIV, which would be an even more effective HIV prevention. And knowing what groups resist HIV will be key to developing the vaccine, he said.

“Some research groups, including my own lab in the past, had detected cells that reacted with the virus in people who were exposed to HIV, but who did not become infected,” Nixon said in a release. “And that makes you think, well, maybe the body is producing something that is helping to stop that exposure from becoming a systematic infection.”

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