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Children with immunities may be key to HIV treatment

By Ryan Maass
Children with immunities may be key to HIV treatment
Oxford scientists are calling for further research to determine why some children are more resistant to HIV infections. Pictured, an HIV-infected T cell. Photo by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

OXFORD, England, Sept. 29 (UPI) -- Children who possess special immunities to HIV infections can pave the way for a host of new treatments for the disease, an Oxford University-led study suggests.

Currently, over half of all children living with HIV die before they are 2 years old. Others, however, are able to live a normal life often without realizing they are infected at all. According to Oxford University scientists, children with these characteristics may be a boon for HIV treatment.

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The study, published in Science Translational Medicine on Wednesday, notes HIV does not progress in 5 to 10 percent of children infected with the deadly virus. Only 0.3 percent of adults were observed to have the same controlled infection.

Oxford University's Professor Philip Goulder led the research, and says children were observed to resist HIV in a fundamentally different way than adult non-progressors.

"Research has often concentrated on certain HLA class I molecules for HIV protection, as these are found in the rare adults who do not experience disease progression," Goulder said in a press release. "In children, protection is not dependent on HLA, and lack of HIV disease here seems to result from avoiding making strong immune responses against HIV."

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Goulder called for further research to learn more about the mechanism children's bodies use to resist HIV's progression.

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