In close cooperation with the "Translational Platform HIV" (infrastructure TP-HIV), the working group "TopHIV" has established a cohort of patients with early HIV infection in Germany. New treatment strategies are rapidly being tested here. Using interdisciplinary approaches, the research group is investigating, among other things, the formation of the virus reservoir - i.e. of active HI viruses hidden in the body. In doing so, the group focuses on the relationship between congenital or adaptive immune dysfunctions and microbiomal disorders in the digestive tract of patients with acute HIV infection. The goal of TopHIV: to identify new therapeutic strategies that allow antiretroviral therapy to be interrupted without the virus load rising again.
Despite suppressive antiretroviral therapy (ART), HIV remains latent, as a reservoir, in a small percentage of mainly dormant memory CD4+-T-cells. Recent studies suggest that it is useful if ART is initiated shortly before seroconversion, i.e. the formation of specific antibodies against HIV. An early start of ART favors the maintenance of innate immunity and T- and B-cell functions, accelerates the recovery of the immune system and limits the formation of the viral reservoir.
With the support of TP-HIV, we have established the TopHIV group to identify and enroll patients with primary HIV infection from partner centres throughout Germany.
Our goals are:
- To define standard ART combinations for these patients and to collect biomaterials for national and international collaborations
- Better understanding of reservoir formation, systemic inflammatory response and ART-mediated immune system restoration in the early phase of HIV infection
- Examination of changes in the intestinal microbiome and mucosal barrier during acute HIV infection