To cure HIV, Reservoirs MUST be identified and destroyed
To achieve a cure for HIV, all cells harbouring an infectious HIV provirus must be eliminated, or permanently neutralized in absence of cART. Additionally, to complicate matters, there is growing experimental evidence that there is residual viral replication and evolution in infected cell reservoirs in patients on cART. These findings further reinforce the notion that the virus continues to replicate in anatomical sites unreachable by standard antiviral drugs. The way forward for designing a cure for HIV is to first identify the cell types and subsets that constitute the latent infected cell reservoir and also the actively replicating reservoir in patients on cART. This poses a considerable challenge because these cells are extremely rare, dispersed throughout the infected host, and may reside in immune privileged sites.
Here are developing a flow cytometry approach called Nanoscale Flow Cytometry or Flow Virometry to detect and quantify the relative abundance of cell-derived markers in the envelope of individual HIV-1 virions. By profiling the expression of these cellular markers, we will be able to identify the cell types and subtypes from which individual virions have been released. Our results will provide new insight on the viral reservoirs in infected individuals. Furthermore, this technology may also be used as a testing platform to monitor the efficacy of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs).