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HIV/AIDS cure: Latent virus reservoirs are the obstacle in finding a cure
Among the most dangerous and life-threatening diseases is HIV/AIDS, and millions are affected by this, and a good amount of the world’s population has been claimed by the disease. As scientists are determined to find a cure for the disease, new reports reveal that there is something about the virus that keeps researchers from progressing towards a cure.
MedicalXpress reports that the big obstacle that is keeping scientists from finding a cure is that the virus has a reservoir made up of “latent, replication-competent proviruses” or dormant viruses that infiltrate cells that help trigger the immune system’s response. This proves to be the biggest obstacle thus far for scientists when it comes to developing a cure because the latent viruses are capable of reactivating and the fact that the cells serving as a reservoir for these dormant viruses play a significant part in the body’s immune system.
Johns Hopkins medicine professor Dr. Robert Siliciano along with a team of collaborators from the University of California, San Francisco, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, published a paper placing emphasis on this matter. They explained that the cure lies in being able to solve the virus’s latency. “Latency may be initially due to the lack of key host factors needed for HIV gene expression. Over time, epigenetic changes might contribute to further silencing HIV gene expression,” which may only worsen the HIV virus’s latency.
Siliciano and his team also put further emphasis on the existing form of treatment for HIV/AIDS, antiretroviral therapy, which can help block the virus from replicating within infected patients and may prevent or even reverse immunodeficiency among those who diligently take the medication.
This finding proves to bring scientists one step closer to finding a cure, and it was previously reported that a group of researchers had made a breakthrough. A group of researchers from North Carolina University, Emory University, and Qura Therapeutics found a way to spot and activate latent cells that, when paired with clearance strategies, may purge the reservoir and thus cure the infected patient.
The team of scientists already started trials on animals first, from mice to monkeys that suffer from SIV, which is similar to HIV. Both tests were successful, leaving the team with another step forward into finding a possible permanent cure without the need for maintenance medication or potentially harmful side-effects.