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Potential Utility Of Natural Killer Cells For Eliminating Cells Harboring Reactivated Latent HIV-1 Following The Removal Of CD8+ T Cell-Mediated Pro-Latency Effect(s)

Georges Khoury, Deanna A. Kulpa, Matthew S. Parsons

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An impediment to curing HIV-1 infection is the persistence of latently infected cells in ART-treated people living with HIV (PLWH). A key strategy for curing HIV-1 infection is to activate transcription and translation of latent virus using latency reversing agents (LRAs) and eliminate cells harboring reactivated virus via viral cytopathic effect or immune clearance. In this review, we provide an overview of available LRAs and their use in clinical trials. Furthermore, we describe recent data suggesting that CD8+ T cells promote HIV-1 latency in the context of ART, even in the presence of LRAs, which might at least partially explain the clinical inefficiency of previous “shock and kill” trials. Here, we propose a novel cure strategy called “unlock, shock, disarm, and kill”. The general premise of this strategy is to shut down the pro-latency function(s) of CD8+ T cells, use LRAs to reverse HIV-1 latency, counteract anti-apoptotic molecules, and engage natural killer (NK) cells to mediate the killing of cells harboring reactivated latent HIV-1.