HIV-2 as a model to identify a functional HIV cure.
Esbjörnsson J., Jansson M., Jespersen S., Månsson F., Hønge BL., Lindman J., Medina C., da Silva ZJ., Norrgren H., Medstrand P., Rowland-Jones SL., Wejse C.
Two HIV virus types exist: HIV-1 is pandemic and aggressive, whereas HIV-2 is confined mainly to West Africa and less pathogenic. Despite the fact that it has been almost 40 years since the discovery of AIDS, there is still no cure or vaccine against HIV. Consequently, the concepts of functional vaccines and cures that aim to limit HIV disease progression and spread by persistent control of viral replication without life-long treatment have been suggested as more feasible options to control the HIV pandemic. To identify virus-host mechanisms that could be targeted for functional cure development, researchers have focused on a small fraction of HIV-1 infected individuals that control their infection spontaneously, so-called elite controllers. However, these efforts have not been able to unravel the key mechanisms of the infection control. This is partly due to lack in statistical power since only 0.15% of HIV-1 infected individuals are natural elite controllers. The proportion of long-term viral control is larger in HIV-2 infection compared with HIV-1 infection. We therefore present the idea of using HIV-2 as a model for finding a functional cure against HIV. Understanding the key differences between HIV-1 and HIV-2 infections, and the cross-reactive effects in HIV-1/HIV-2 dual-infection could provide novel insights in developing functional HIV cures and vaccines.