The condition has been well spread along the years, with treatments available, but no permanent cure, but now researchers have found a cancer drug could “shock and kill” HIV cells. In combination with another molecule, a compound found in cancer drugs could be the way the disease will fully be killed.
Around 30 million people are currently infected with the virus that causes AIDS, but it’s been a long time since that was a death sentence. HAART (highly active anti-retroviral therapy) has been a relatively successful treatment for restoring a patient’s immune system, lowering the viral content in the body and preventing newborn babies from infections.
The virus has high mutation rates, which while treatable, is hardly curable, leaving traces of dormant HIV in the body that will rise to the surface once the anti-viral treatment is stopped. Providing a way for it to be eradicated has proven to be a near impossible task. HAART is a combination of three different drugs that cannot achieve the goal and cannot cure the disease.
The treatment is able to successfully attack active HIV, but completely ignores the dormant remnants that will cause trouble in the future.
Researchers at the University of California Davis, however, have managed to find a way that might lead to the virus’ final elimination and end an issue that has been plaguing humanity for many decades. They have discovered that the compound PEP005, which is commonly found in PICATO, a drug to prevent a type of skin cancer, has the ability to ‘reawaken’ dormant HIV cells.
With this, they developed a way to “shock and kill” the virus once and for all. By forcing the dormant HIV to wake up, the drugs will be able to permanently destroy it and thus ending the cycle of mutations that will lead to recurrence once treatment has stopped.
After conducting the study on parts of the immune system from 13 HIV-infected patients, they found that PEP005 can actively “shock” the virus into activation and allow detection in order for a complete eradication. In combination with another compound, called JQ1, the force of awakening the dormant virus lifted 15 times.
This poses as an excellent promise for future HIV treatments to turn into complete and permanent cures, by not only eliminating the virus, but essentially flushing it out forever without the medication risking high toxicity levels in the body. Unfortunately, it may still be 10 years before it hits the market.
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