20 June 2017 - PRESS RELEASE
Maximilian Muenchhoff has been honoured with the HIV/AIDS Research Award
Some HIV-infected – and untreated children – who do not develop AIDS, control the virus in a different way from the few infected adults who remain disease-free. Dr Maximilian Muenchhoff, DZIF scientist at LMU´s Max von Pettenkofer Institute, has been honoured for characterizing the immunological mechanisms with the HIV/AIDS Research Award of the German Society of Infectious Diseases.
"Children who are HIV-positive but remain free of AIDS are very rare", explains DZIF scientist Dr Maximilian Muenchhoff at the LMU. In the absence of antiretroviral therapy, over 99% of individuals infected with HIV go on to develop full-blown AIDS. However, between 5 and 10% of perinatally infected HIV-positive children avoid this fate, as an international research collaboration, led by Maximilian Muenchhoff report in their study. Together with the team of Prof Philip Goulder at the University of Oxford Muenchhoff has characterized the immunological responses of a cohort of these so-called non-progressors – 170 HIV-positive children in South Africa who contracted the infection from their mothers but who remain healthy.
The investigations reveal that these children have high concentrations of circulating HIV particles, although their immune system remains fully functional. “Interestingly however, these infected but healthy children exhibit only low levels of immune activation. In addition, while the spectrum of cell types that contain the virus – the so-called viral reservoir – is very complex it is predominantely restricted to short-lived CD4+ T cells in these young non-progressors,” says Muenchhoff. “The new findings are therefore of interest not only with respect to the development of effective HIV vaccines, they may also provide pointers toward potential interventions for patients with chronic HIV infections” says Muenchhoff.
Dr. med. Maximilian Muenchhoff works in the department of virology at Max von Pettenkofer Institute since 2016; since that time he is also working in the DZIF research field HIV. He worked at the honoured study as a postdoc at the University of Oxford. The HIV/AIDS research award is worth 10,000 euro.
Dr. med. Maximilian Muenchhoff
Max von Pettenkofer Institute
German Center for Infection Research
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