Macrophages could destroy HIV-1 and alert the immune system via the mannose receptor.
Antigen-presenting cells, a group of immune cells, are covered with tiny receptors that allow them to understand the environment around them. The AIDS virus, HIV-1 exploits one kind of receptor called CD4, disguising itself as something safe, and is ushered into the cell where it starts an infection.
Dr. Trujillo discovered that if antigen-presenting cells use a different receptor, called the mannose receptor, they recognize HIV-1 as a danger and attack. They eat and break the virus into harmless pieces. These pieces are shared with other immune cells, to sound an alarm to find HIV-1 and destroy it.
The discovery led to a better understanding of the HIV-1/AIDS disease process and provided insights into the advances of HIV-1 vaccine design.