New HIV breakthrough
HIV can be flushed out of the body, researchers have discovered.
A study carried out by a team at the University of California has found that the infection can be unearthed in the anatomy and killed when in the bloodstream.
Highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) treatment is often used on HIV, with the standard treatment consisting of a concoction of around three different drugs to suppress the disease replicating. However, elements of the virus can still dodge the treatment, as HIV is programmed to survive and can even become invisible to the body's immune system so drugs can't detect it.
And when this treatment is finished, a patient is at risk of HIV returning. But continuing HAART for too long has downsides as well, such as long-term toxicity.
The new research could be the answer to curing the disease, as lead author Dr Satya Dandekar has shared.
"We are excited to have identified an outstanding candidate for HIV reactivation and eradication that is already approved and is being used in patients," she said.
"This molecule has great potential to advance into translational and clinical studies."
A cancer drug was used, which revealed hidden HIV in the body. This new strategy has been dubbed 'kick and kill', with the kick unveiling the virus and the cancer drug, PEP005 (used to prevent cancer in sun-damaged skin), then killing it.
Drug cells grown in a laboratory were tested, along with parts of the immune system from 13 HIV positive people.
"PEP005 is highly potent in reactivating latent HIV," the report stated. "[The chemical represents] a new group of lead compounds for combating HIV."
Prof Sharon Lewin, of the University of Melbourne, was impressed by the results and dubs them an important advance in the cure for HIV.
"This study adds another family of drugs to test to potentially eliminate long-lived forms of HIV although much more work needs to be done to see if this works in patients," she told the BBC.
"Although PEP005 is part of an FDA approved drug, it will first take some time to work out if it is safe to use in the setting of HIV."