Hyderabad , India
Several HIV patients are developing what is known as HIV-associated dementia (HAD) and that has got scientists from the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) here to embark on research to throw up some answers.
A team of researchers led by Sunit Kumar Singh, scientist (infectious diseases and immunobiology) has begun the research whose main thrust, according to them, would be to understand the inflammatory processes in the human brain and joints associated with many viral infections. Two Ph D scholars and three project research scholars are part of the team. “We are trying to dissect the molecular basis of neuroinvasion and neuroinflammation caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and also Japanese Encephalitis Virus (JEV),” Sunit Kumar Singh said. Both the viruses, he explained, enter the central nervous system (CNS) and establish the infection.
While health problems associated with HIV are known, what doctors across the world are now concerned is the brain getting affected by the virus. It has been observed that 20-30 per cent of patients infected with HIV-1 develop a series of cognitive and motor symptoms. Known as HIV–associated dementia (HAD), patients develop cognitive problems like dementia or forgetfulness and other brainrelated disorders.
The CCMB research team is now trying to find how the virus disrupts or changes the permeability of the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB), enters the central nervous system and spreads its infection. While some international research has shown how the virus enters the brain, the bigger question on how the infected cells permeate the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB) remains unanswered. With the available Antiretroviral Therapy (ART), the lifespan of HIV patients is increasing. But in recent years, clinicians all over the world have started reporting that quite a few patients are developing neurological abnormalities. Basic research on why and how this is happening has been ignored for a long time.