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UCLA-led team refines ‘kick and kill’ strategy aimed at eliminating HIV-infected cells



UCLA CTSI News Archive

A. Harrison and Dr. P. Feorino/CDC

A microscope image of HIV particles. The “kick and kill” approach uses cells that are naturally produced by the immune system to kill HIV-infected cells that hide in the body.

In a study using mice, a UCLA-led team of researchers have improved upon a method they developed in 2017 that was designed to kill HIV-infected cells. The advance could move scientists a step closer to being able to reduce the amount of virus, or even eliminate it, from infected people who are dependent on lifesaving medications to keep the virus from multiplying and illness at bay.

The strategy, described in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications, uses cells that are naturally produced by the immune system to kill infected cells that hide in the body, potentially eradicating them, said Dr. Jocelyn Kim, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

“These findings show proof-of-concept for a therapeutic strategy to potentially eliminate HIV from the body, a task that had been nearly insurmountable for many years,” said Kim, the study’s lead author. “The study opens a new paradigm for a possible HIV cure in the future.” 

See the full UCLA press release.

This research was supported in part by CTSI through a CTSI Voucher Award that Kim received which aided in developing this manuscript. CTSI was also instrumental to her transition as an early investigator. She was a KL2 Scholar from 2018-2020, which included funds and one-on-one mentorship, and she later on received grant studios which were all integral to obtaining her NIH K08 Career Development Award in 2020. Her current K08 award has also directly contributed to the current manuscript.