Antiretroviral therapy (ART) has revolutionised the treatment of infection with Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and has dramatically reduced mortality and morbidity in HIV-infected patients. However, HIV infection is still a global health burden with 36.7 million people infected at the end of 2016 with approximately only 53% of those individuals having access to ART. Although ART is successful in suppressing viral load, it needs to be taken lifelong, has side effects and is expensive. Therefore, there is an urgent need to cure HIV or strategies to induce virus remission so that ART can be stopped without viral rebound.
The aim of this research project is to evaluate the potential of using donor specific stem-cells to engineer plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC) and use them as cell-based therapy to treat infection with HIV. The objective is to examine how pDC can induce killing of HIV infected cells through i) CD8+ T cells, ii) natural killer (NK) cells iii) antibody-dependent effector cells or iv) directly by inducing a so-called “killer DC” phenotype.
Renee obtained her PhD in 2013 from the University of Amsterdam and promptly moved across the world to do research in Melbourne. In 2018 Renee returned to Europe to work at Aarhus University. Throughout her career Renee focusses her research on how HIV hides in T cells from the immune system, how the interaction of infected cells with other immune cells, particularly dendritic cells, affect virus expression and finally, how the immune system can be manipulated to ultimately eliminate all infected cells.
Evaluating the effect of genetically engineered human plasmacytoid dendritic cells to induce specific anti-HIV responses and kill HIV-infected cells
Area of research:
HIV, dendritic cells, immunomodulation, therapeutic vaccine
01 Oct 2018 – 30 Sep 2021