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HIV/AIDS Cure: Known Leukemia Drug Is Potentially an Effective Treatment With No Rebound

The red ribbon symbolizes HIV awareness around the world. | Photo by NIAID via Flickr.com

HIV, which can later develop into AIDS, and cancer are some of the most menacing diseases globally mostly because a complete cure has not been developed yet. However, a group of scientists recently announced their findings that a known drug for leukemia is potentially an effective HIV treatment.

Researchers from Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health used monkeys for the study that have all been “chronically infected” with the virus. The study was published in a 10-page report on Advanced Sciences. The test animals were given antiretroviral drugs for 12 weeks and four of them were also given leukemia drug arsenic trioxide via intravenous infusion once for weeks.

Scientists later stopped issuing ART treatments onto the test subjects that also received arsenic trioxide medication. They found two of the monkeys with undetectable viral load and no signs of rebound 80 days since they stopped the ART treatments. “This work suggests that arsenic trioxide in combination with ART is a novel regimen in down-sizing or even eradicating latent HIV-1 reservoir,” the research report reads.

Though this research still has a long way to go, seeing a very positive result on animal testing is already a great development. UNICEF Senior Advisor in HIV, Shaffiq Essajee, welcomed the good news as it opens many possibilities for more potentially effective treatments in suppressing HIV among infected patients while the world still awaits the development of a complete cure.

“Findings from the recent study are very exciting and suggest that new drugs, in combination with existing antiretrovirals, may be able to reduce or eliminate the HIV reservoir,” Essajee told Daily Mail. “These results warrant further research to assess the safety and efficacy of this approach for people with HIV, especially children.

In the history of finding the HIV cure, different groups of scientists have previously found potential cures from known cancer therapies. Earlier this year, a second patient — only identified as “London patient” — was announced to be “cured” from HIV after receiving stem cell transplant for their Hodgkin's lymphoma. The patient agreed to stop taking ART after their doctor has not detected the virus in his system. They remain in remission 18 months later or at the time their case was reported to the public last March.

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