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1 out of 10 Children Has Built-In Defense Against AIDS Similar to Monkeys

Oct 05, 2016 04:41 AM EDT
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham Visits Swaziland
MAKHEWU, SWAZILAND - JUNE 07: In this handout image provided by UNICEF, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham meets Sebenelle, 14, Makhewu, Swaziland, on June 7, 2016, who receives the 7 Fund support in management of malnutrition in HIV positive children.
(Photo : UNICEF via Getty Images)

This must be hard to believe, but there are children who can evade AIDS despite acquiring HIV, according to a new study published in the Journal of Science Translational Medicine. The answer lies on the similarities of the levels of their CDR-T to those of sooty mangabey and African green monkeys, also suffering from SIV but were not succumbed by the disease.

What actually happens when you have HIV? The virus is out to attack the immune cells. Once attacked, the virus will cause some of these cells to replicate itself, which kills the immune cells in the process. And without immune cells, the body will be vulnerable to diseases. Thus, this condition will now be what we called acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS.

The study includes blood samples from 170 South African children ages five years and below and weren't subjected to antivetriol theraphy. Upon analyzing their samples, it was soon found that despite the onslaught of the virus to the immune system, it failed to weaken the immune cells.

"This is quite unusual because in general the progression from HIV infection to serious disease is more rapid in children than in adults. About 60 percent of kids infected die within two and a half years," said senior study author Philip Goulder, a pediatric infectious disease researcher at the University of Oxford.

How is this possible? It is because of some of the children have a built-in defense mechanism that is similar to sooty mangabey and the African green monkey, that have SIV (monkey's version of HIV) yet they are able to defend themselves from succumbing to the end disease. Just like the African monkeys', the children's immune cells have low levels of CCR5, a protein receptor that tells immune cells where to go and fight infection.

"This study offers a whole new approach to dealing with HIV," said William Borkowsky, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at New York University. "Instead of enhancing immune response to the virus with drugs, we may be better off doing the opposite so that adults and children infected with HIV can avoid AIDS successfully."

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