Have HAART, will tackle HIV

March 19th, 2009 - 6:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, March 19 (IANS) Highly active anti-retroviral therapy - or HAART - has emerged as a highly potent HIV treatment, a study has revealed.
However, HAART can never truly eradicate the viruses as some of them always remain dormant in cells.

But a chemical called suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA), recently approved as leukemia drug, has now been shown to ‘turn on’ latent HIV, making it visible and easy to target that HAART misses.

Matija Peterlin at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and colleagues had previously identified another chemical called HMBA that could activate latent HIV, but the risk of several toxic side effects made HMBA clinically non-viable.

However, the chemically similar SAHA had received FDA approval, making it a potentially safer alternate.

So, the researchers examined whether SAHA had any effect on HIV latency. They found that SAHA could indeed stimulate latent HIV to begin replicating, which exposes the infected cell to HAART drugs, said a UCSF release.

SAHA could activate HIV in both lab cells as well as from blood samples taken from HIV patients on antiretroviral therapy. Importantly, this successful activation was achieved using clinical doses of SAHA, suggesting toxicity will not be a problem.

This study appeared in the March 13 issue of Journal of Biological Chemistry.

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