The Levy laboratory is studying features of HIV that determine its ability to be transmitted and to induce disease. The approaches include basic biologic, immunologic and molecular techniques. We have determined that isolates of HIV-1 and HIV-2, the two types of AIDS virus, can differ in cellular host range, the extend of virus replication, kinetics of virus production and the degree of cell-killing. We are also examining the host immunologic response to HIV, such as the evaluation of antibodies produced against the virus and cellular anti-HIV immune activities. The ability of CD8+ lymphocytes to suppress HIV replication through production of a novel antiviral factor, CAF, is particularly emphasized in the laboratory. CD8+ lymphocytes are grown in culture from HIV-infected healthy volunteers who have shown control of the virus via production of the CAF protein. Research studies are aimed at defining the nature of this protein in hopes that CAF can be used as therapy for all HIV-infected people. The laboratory is also dedicating its efforts to the development of an HIV "cure" via stem cell studies and the derivation of an effective HIV vaccine.
For more information on HIV and AIDS, you can watch one of Dr. Levy's lectures at UCSF here.