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ART and RIT May Help to Find Cure for HIV

Harold Mandel's picture
Stop AIDS Now

Researchers believe it may be possible to wipe out HIV and find treatment by combining two therapies together. People have been living in fear of possibly dying horrible deaths from HIV. The statistics are alarming with over 1.1 million Americans living with HIV infection and 33.4 million people worldwide living with this deadly infection. Ever since the first cases became evident in 1981 greater than 25 million people across the world have died from AIDS.

RIT in combination with ART eliminates HIV infected cells

Research shows that RIT in combination with ART eliminated HIV infected cells, according to a research paper from the Radiological Society of North America, which was released from embargo on Dec. 3, 2013. The researchers recognized that the elimination of virally infected cells is a vital component of a successful HIV eradication strategy. Furthermore, because many patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART) suffer from HIV associated neurocognitive disorders, drugs which can enter into the CNS and wipe out the infection are necessary. With radioimmunotherapy (RIT) cells are killed using radiolabeled monoclonal antibodies (mAbs).

The researchers discovered that RIT was capable of specifically killing ART treated lymphocytes and reducing HIV to levels which are not detectable. The bottom line is RIT used with ART wiped out infected cells. These results have demonstrated the possibility of developing an RIT based strategy for use with ART to achieve HIV eradication.

At this time HIV/AIDS remains an incurable disease. These researchers are continuing to work to develop RIT based strategies for use with other anti retroviral strategies with a goal of achieving complete HIV eradication. There is also work being done to develop an effective AIDS vaccine, writes EmaxHealth reporter Tyler Woods Ph.D.

Understanding what HIV stands for is simple

AIDS.gov breaks down what HIV is to help with a clear understanding of what this infection is, as follows:

H – Human – This particular type of virus can only infect human beings

I – Immunodeficiency – HIV weakens your immune system by destroying vital cells that fight disease and infection.

V – Virus – A virus can only reproduce itself by actually taking over a cell in the body of its host

Although HIV has many traits in common with other viruses, such as those which cause the "flu" or the common cold, there is an important difference. Your immune system has the capacity to clear most viruses out of your body. However the human immune system can't seem to clear the body of HIV. Your T-cells, or CD4 cells, are a vital part of your immune system. HIV invades these cells which are needed to fight infections and disease. Eventually HIV can destroy so many of your CD4 cells that your body can no longer fight infections and diseases. This is how HIV infection becomes AIDS.

An understanding of what AIDS stands for is simple

There is a simple way to understand the basics of what AIDS is, as follows:

A – Acquired – AIDS is not something you inherit from your parents, it is something you acquire after birth

I – Immuno – Your body's immune system includes all the vital organs and cells that work to fight off infection or disease

D – Deficiency – AIDS develops when your immune system is "deficient," or is not working the way it should be working

S – Syndrome – A syndrome is a collection of symptoms and signs of a disease. AIDS is defined as a syndrome, instead of a single disease, because it is a complex illness which has a wide range of complications and symptoms

The final stage of HIV infection is AIDS, at which time people have badly damaged immune systems, which leaves them at risk for opportunistic infections. It is believed by scientists that
HIV came from a particular type of chimpanzee in Western Africa. People probably came into contact with HIV when they hunted and ate the infected animals. It now appears that HIV may have skipped over from monkeys to people as far back as the late 1800s.

HIV infection comes from bodily fluids

You can become infected with HIV if body fluids infected with HIV enter your body. The following fluids can contain high levels of HIV:

1: Blood

2: Semen

3: Pre-seminal fluid

4: Breast milk

5: Vaginal fluids

6: Rectal mucous

7: Amniotic fluid

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8: Cerebrospinal fluid

9: Synovial fluid

There are many people who are HIV-positive who do not have symptoms of HIV infection. Generally people begin to feel sick as they progress towards AIDS. Although the virus itself can sometimes make people feel sick, most of the severe symptoms and illnesses which are associated with HIV disease come from the opportunistic infections that attack an immune system which is damaged.

Some symptoms of HIV infection are actually similar to symptoms which occur with many other common illnesses, such as the flu, or respiratory or gastrointestinal infections. About 2-4 weeks after exposure to HIV or later, people with HIV can experience an acute illness, which is often described as “the worst flu ever.” This illness is called acute retroviral syndrome (ARS), or primary HIV infection. Symptoms of ARS can include:

1: Fever

2: Chills

3: Rash

4: Night sweats

5: Muscle aches

6: Sore throat

7: Fatigue

8: Swollen lymph nodes

9: Ulcers in the mouth

There than may be a “chronic” or “latency” phase, which can last up to 10 years or longer. During this phase, many people do not have any symptoms of HIV infection. When HIV infection finally progresses to AIDS, many people begin to suffer from the following symptoms:

1: Fatigue

2: Diarrhea

3: Nausea

4: Vomiting

5: Fever

6: Chills

7: Night sweats

8: Wasting syndrome

The new research dealing with research using radioimmunotherapy (RIT) to kill HIV infected cells is discussed in a press release on Dec. 3, 2013 from the Radiological Society of North America. Researchers have successfully used RIT to destroy remaining HIV infected cells in the blood samples of patients who were treated with antiretroviral therapy.

Although highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has been successful in suppressing the replication of the virus in the body, scientists believe reservoirs of latently infected cells survive in the body. This prevents the possibility of a permanent cure with HAART. Ekaterina Dadachova, Ph.D., the studies lead author, has said, "In an HIV patient on HAART, drugs suppress viral replication, which means they keep the number of viral particles in a patient's bloodstream very low. However, HAART cannot kill the HIV-infected cells." For a strategy to meet with success in curing HIV infection it has to include a method to eliminate the viral-infected cells.

RIT has been used to treat cancer. RIT uses monoclonal antibodies, which are cloned cells which are recruited by the immune system to identify and neutralize antigens. Antigens are foreign objects such as bacteria and viruses that stimulate the immune response in the body. The antibody, which is designed to recognize and bind to a specific cell antigen, is paired up with a radioactive isotope. When the laboratory-developed antibody is injected into the patient's bloodstream, it travels to the target cell where the radiation is then delivered. Dr. Dadachova said, "In RIT, the antibodies bind to the infected cells and kill them by radiation." HAART and RIT together kill the virus and the infected cells, respectively.

It was observed that the elimination of HIV-infected cells with RIT was profound and specific. The radionuclide which was used by the researchers delivered the radiation only to HIV-infected cells without damaging the nearby cells. Furthermore, in this study, RIT was able to kill HIV-infected cells both systemically and within the central nervous system. Dr. Dadachova says that clinical trials with RIT in HIV patients are now needed.

Other initiatives at HIV eradication have simply not met with complete success. Consider that although China’s free antiretroviral program reduces deaths, the treatment fails for approximately half of those who complete five years of antiretroviral therapy, reports EmaxHealth reporter Ruzanna Harutyunyan.

I have observed the AIDS epidemic create a scare of unforeseen proportions in our society. Fear of the deadly HIV infection is justified. Yet, in spite of increasing knowledge about the high risk for HIV associated with risky sex, among other exposures to HIV infected body fluids, it appears the infection is continuing to spread. It is unfortunately not only a human trait for young adults, but also for older people, to sometimes give in to the lust of adolescent styled risky sexual encounters, even though this could cost you your life. It appears to be a human trait to insist this could only happen to the next guy or gal. But this is not true, Anyone can get HIV.

Therefore, while continuing to try hard to persuade people, young and older alike, to be a lot more careful about the type of sexual encounters they have because of HIV, it is comforting to know a cure may nevertheless be on the horizons for HIV. But, keeping in mind any such cure is not available yet and is likely to be expensive if it evolves, it is advisable to always continue to learn more about AIDS and try to be more careful than ever before about coming into contact with HIV.