‘Shock and kill’ approach to knock out latent HIV genes

June 6th, 2009 - 2:46 pm ICT by IANS  

London, June 6 (IANS) A new ’shock and kill’ approach has been devised by Italian researchers to knock out HIV/AIDS infection.
Enrico Garaci, president of the Italian Institute of Health and Andrea Savarino and his retrovirologist colleague, worked with a team to study the so-called “barrier of latency”, which has been the main obstacle to HIV eradication from the body.

Cells harbouring a quiescent HIV genome are responsible for HIV persistence during therapy. In other words, HIV-1 genes become pieces of the human organism, about which scientists simply thought they could do nothing, said an Italian Institute release.

Savarino’s team aimed to ’smoke out’ the virus in order to render the latently infected cells targetable by the immune system or artificial means. This type of approach has been dubbed ’shock and kill’.

“Although this type of approach is largely accepted by the scientific community,” said Savarino adding that “to be honest… some scientists are sceptical about this approach, and others even think that a cure for HIV/AIDS will never be found”.

The technique has been described in a preclinical study in Retrovirology.

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