A novel approach may kill HIV infected cells

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Stop AIDs

There has been hysteria surrounding fears of being hit with HIV due to the incurable nature of this infection at this time. In view of this realization more aggressive efforts at prevention of HIV have been adhered to by many people. In the meantime research is continuing with hopes of finding a way to completely eradicate HIV.

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) has met with a great deal of success in reducing HIV levels in plasma to undetectable levels, reports PLOS/Pathogens. However, the effects of ART outside of the peripheral blood in regard to persistent virus production in tissue reservoirs has not been well understood. An understanding of the full dynamics of ART-induced reductions in viral RNA (vRNA) levels which are located throughout the body has been seen as important for the development of strategies to eradicate infectious HIV from patients.

Researchers are working on killing persisting HIV infected cells during ART

Researchers have realized that it is essential for a successful eradication therapy to develop a component which is capable of killing persisting HIV infected cells during ART. The researchers
therefore determined the in vivo efficacy of a targeted cytotoxic therapy to kill infected cells which persist in spite of long-term ART. In order to do this the researchers first characterized the impact of ART on HIV RNA levels in multiple organs of bone marrow-liver-thymus (BLT) humanized mice. They discovered that antiretroviral drug penetration and activity was adequate to reduce, but not to completely eliminate, HIV production in each tissue which was tested.

In order to achieve targeted cytotoxic killing of the persistent vRNA+ cells, the researchers treated BLT mice undergoing ART with an HIV-specific immunotoxin. It was observed that in comparison to
ART alone, this new agent profoundly depleted infected cells in a systemic way. These results offer evidence that targeted cytotoxic therapies can be effective components of HIV eradication strategies.

Although ART improves the quality of life for people infected with HIV, ART remains at this time a lifelong commitment because HIV persists during treatment even though it is suppressed below detection. When ART is stopped the HIV reappears. Researchers have been trying to develop new eradication therapies aimed at preventing virus rebound.

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The researchers have complemented ART with an immunotoxin which specifically kills HIV expressing cells while leaving other cells untouched. The results have demonstrated a dramatic reduction in persistent HIV throughout the body due to the killing of virus producing cells. This shows that it is possible to successfully target persistent HIV inside the body.

Researchers are working on a “guided missile” strategy to kill hidden HIV

This research has demonstrated a “guided missile” strategy to kill hidden HIV, reports the University of North Carolina (UNC), on Jan. 9, 2014. The newly developed combination therapy by researchers at the UNC School of Medicine is a potential new potent weapon against HIV. This therapy targets HIV-infected cells which standard therapies cannot kill.

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