Progress in the Search for an HIV Cure

Though HIV treatment successfully keeps the viral load very low, there remains no cure for this disease that has claimed approximately 39 million lives.  It is known that HIV lays dormant within the white blood cells, sometimes for decades. This complexity which has so far prevented the development of a cure due.

A study published last week has provided research into how HIV lies dormant within an individual. This new understanding of the mechanisms of the virus is a breakthrough and it has been hailed as the ‘key’ to development of more effective therapies, as it describes which cells the HIV resides within.

Researchers at Rockefeller ‘studied the integration profile of HIV-1 in viremic progressors’ by analyzing 75 viral sequences taken from the expanded clones of cells. It was determined that none of these samples had the ability to produce more of the virus.

Previous research has shown that infected white cells proliferate, providing clones containing the genetic code for HIV. In this paper, they found no evidence that these clones harbour a reservoir of the virus, and instead found evidence that suggests that unique CD4+ T cells that have never divided are the source of a latent reservoir.

This finding means that a potential cure could target these cells specifically, providing more effective therapy for HIV treatments.

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