New treatment method may possibly eradicate HIV infection

June 22nd, 2009 - 11:49 am ICT by ANI  

London, June 22 (ANI): A collaborative team of researchers from VGTI Florida and the University of Montreal say that they have made certain findings that may provide a method to eradicate HIV infection in the human body.

They say that their study has even uncovered new information on how HIV persists in the body, even in patients receiving drug treatments, and how the virus continues to replicate itself in individuals undergoing treatment.

According to background information in a research article on their study, medical advancements in the past 20 years have significantly increased the survival rates of AIDS patients.

The report further states that about 90 percent of patients infected with AIDS can survive with the disease as long as they are treated with a complex series of antiretroviral drugs.

“Current medications allow us to control HIV and limit its progression in most cases,” Nature magazine quoted senior author Dr. Rafick-Pierre Sekaly, current scientific director for VGTI Florida, a former scientist at the University of Montreal, as saying.

“However, the medications do not eradicate the disease. Instead, the disease persists within the body - much like water in a reservoir - and is never fully destroyed. We believe our latest research may help scientists and physicians overcome this hurdle,” the researcher added.

The researchers say that their study enabled them to identify a possible new way of attacking HIV by first identifying the specific cells where HIV infection persists in patients currently undergoing treatment.

They have found that the disease is able to survive within two subsets of memory T-cells.

Memory T-cells are a portion of the body’s immune system and have the ability to learn, detect and attack certain types of infectious diseases.

The team say that HIV avoid antiviral treatments by infecting cells within the body’s own immune system, and that it uses the body’s own defence system as a hideout.

As to how the HIV-infected memory T-cells replenish themselves, the researchers found that when populating T-cells, HIV does not replicate itself as it does in other cell types on the body.

They say that HIV instead persists in memory T-cells through cell division, a finding that holds significant implications for possibly stopping the disease.

“Based on this research, we believe one possible method for eliminating HIV in the body is to use a combined approach. We propose the use of medications that target viral replication of HIV throughout the body, in combination with drugs that prevent infected memory T-cells from dividing. We believe that by attacking the disease in these distinct two ways at once for an extended period of time, we can eliminate the reservoirs of HIV that currently persist within the human body, leaving an individual disease-free,” said Dr. Sekaly.

The researchers say that they will next use animal models and newly developed therapies to test their proposed treatment method.

“While this is a preliminary finding, we are hopeful that this research discovery will guide us in eradicating HIV infection in the body,” said Dr. Sekaly.

The findings of the study have been reported in the online edition of the journal Nature Medicine. (ANI)

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