HIV Cure On The Horizon?

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Science, Sexuality

Interesting news…

CHICAGO (AFP) – In a breakthrough that could potentially lead to a cure for HIV infection, scientists have discovered a way to remove the virus from infected cells, a study released Thursday said.

The scientists engineered an enzyme which attacks the DNA of the HIV virus and cuts it out of the infected cell, according to the study published in Science magazine.

The enzyme is still far from being ready to use as a treatment, the authors warned, but it offers a glimmer of hope for the more than 40 million people infected worldwide.

“A customized enzyme that effectively excises integrated HIV-1 from infected cells in vitro might one day help to eradicate (the) virus from AIDS patients,” Alan Engelman, of Harvard University’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, wrote in an article accompanying the study.

Obviously it’s a long ways away, but I’m going to predict that a cure is going to come from a novel approach like this one. Focus on removal off the virus from the cell instead of the destruction of the cell itself.


This entry was posted on Friday, June 29th, 2007 and is filed under Science, Sexuality. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “HIV Cure On The Horizon?”

  1. Ziusudra Says:

    …I’m going to predict that a cure is going to come from a novel approach like this one.

    Considering the standard approaches have failed, I say that’s a pretty safe bet.

  2. sleipner Says:

    There are two main problems with HIV eradication. One is that the virus mutates rapidly and radically, with only one out of every 11 copies being viable, that’s why it is so capable of becoming drug resistant, especially if patients aren’t particularly good at consistency. This makes many potential treatments and/or vaccines not work because the virus simply changes slightly and avoids the issue. There are quite a few variants on the HIV virus out there, and they are different enough from each other to prevent a single vaccine from blocking them all.

    The other is that the virus gets into inactive immune system cells that can remain inactive for years or even decades, harboring the virus until some event causes it to activate and begin spewing out new HIV copies. At first, researchers thought the “cocktail” had eradicated the virus in some patients because the viral load was undetectable for so long, but then it started coming back due to these sleeping viral reservoirs.

    It sounds like this enzyme has the potential to get past the second issue, which is by far the hardest for eradication because the sleeper cells don’t really interact with their environment much. The real tricks are to get the enzymes to where they need to go, and when there to only latch onto the HIV virus. I would say, though, that this is probably one of the more promising leads to come along in a while, but as they’re saying it’s very premature to expect even any test results for years yet.

  3. How does one volunteer for a trial experiment using the enzyme Says:

    How does one volunteer for a trial experiment using this enzyme?

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