AIDS Immunopathology Unit
null AIDS Immunopathology Unit
The AIDS Immunopathology Unit was set up in 2000 at Instituto de Salud Carlos III under the leadership of Pepe Alcamí. We are integrated in Spanish HIV/AIDS Research Network (RIS) and other European research networks, and cooperate with groups of international prestige around the world.
Our work aims at the comprehension of the pathogenesis of HIV-1 and from this knowledge contribute to the development of vaccines and new drugs. Our lines of research are the following:
- HIV envelope. HIV envelope is the most important protein for the initial events of viral life cycle resulting in HIV entry into the cell. Our group is interested in addressing the study of the HIV-1 envelope from different perspectives. We consider the viral envelope as both a major determinant of HIV pathogenesis and a mirror of the immune response (innate and adaptive) elicited against HIV.
- HIV reservoirs and cure. Regardless of the extraordinary progress performed in the control of HIV-1 replication by therapy, a cure for the infection is not yet achievable. HIV-1 latency in the infected cells (reservoirs) represents the major obstacle for its eradication. Understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in the establishment and persistence of HIV-1 reservoirs, can provide clues for the eradication, or at least the control, of long-term reservoirs.
- Vaccines and neutralizing antibodies. HIV envelope protein has evolved to evade recognition by neutralizing antibodies. Despite this escape, several monoclonal antibodies, capable of neutralizing the majority of HIV-1 strains, have been isolated from infected individuals (broadly neutralizing antibodies or bNAbs). We are working in several research lines trying to induce these antibodies and to identify new bNAbs.
- Restriction factors. These proteins block lentiviral infections, including HIV, in primates, acting at different steps of the viral cycle. We are working in several projects trying to better characterize some of these restriction factors and their impact on HIV infection.
- Host genetics. This is the last line of research initiated in the lab, trying to identify the host genetic mechanisms involved in the progression of HIV infection.
Antiviral and vaccine platform. In addition, we offer to other groups a battery of services based on patented HIV-based recombinant viral vectors. These vectors have proven utility in the evaluation of viral tropism of clinical samples (before starting treatment with CCR5 inhibitors), the titration of neutralizing antibodies activity in order to assess the efficacy of new vaccines, or the screening and characterization of the antiviral activity of collections of compounds.