Bengaluru: In a development that can go a long way in treating HIV, the IISc researchers have developed artificial enzymes that can successfully block reactivation and replication of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in the host’s immune cells, reports Times of India. 

“Made from vanadium pentoxide nanosheets, these “nanozymes” work by mimicking a natural enzyme called glutathione peroxidase that helps reduce oxidative stress levels in the host’s cells, which is required to keep the virus in check,” Times of India quoted IISc.
The website added that the research was led by Amit Singh, associate professor and Wellcome Trust-DBT India Alliance senior fellow at the Department of Microbiology & Cell Biology and Centre for Infectious Diseases Research (CIDR), and Govindasamy Mugesh, professor, Department of Inorganic and Physical Chemistry.

“The advantage is that the nanozymes are stable inside biological systems and do not mediate any unwanted reactions inside the cells. They are also quite easy to prepare in the lab,” Mugesh said, the website added.

It is to be noted that as per an IISc statement that there is currently no way to eliminate HIV from a patient’s body completely.

“Anti-HIV drugs are only successful in suppressing the virus; they fail at eradicating HIV from infected cells. The virus hides inside the host’s immune cells in a “latent” state and stably maintains its reservoir,” it adds.

According to IISc, when the levels of toxic molecules such as hydrogen peroxide increase in the host’s cells, leading to a state of increased oxidative stress, the virus gets “reactivated” ‒ it emerges from hiding and begins replicating again.

A few years ago, Singh’s team developed a biosensor to measure oxidative stress levels in HIV-infected immune cells in real-time. “We found that to come out of latency and reactivate, HIV needs very little oxidative stress,” he says.