Functional cure discovered for HIV

Posted on 2017-10-23

The HIV virus poses a difficult challenge for researchers and scientists worldwide. Only once in history was someone cured completely of the virus but unfortunately, we do not have the complete understanding of how.

However, a new study published this week offers a functional cure for the disease from a new approach.

A functional cure is defined as long-term control of HIV at an undetectable level of the virus in the bloodstream without continued use of anti-retroviral drugs.

Thanks to a team of scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), a new way to tackle the virus and functionally cure someone is on the horizon. TSRI Associate, Professor Susana Valente explains that the compound called, didehydro-Cortistatin A (dCA) subdues HIV's production and re-activation, an approach which is called “Block-and-Lock”.

“reactivation of the virus in cells, even during treatment interruptions, and locks HIV into durable state of latency.”

“No other anti-retroviral used in the clinic today is able to completely suppress viral production in infected cells in vivo,” explained Valente. “When combining this drug with the standard cocktail of antiretrovirals used to suppress infection in humanized mouse models of HIV-1 infection, our study found a drastic reduction in virus RNA present—it is really the proof-of-concept for a ‘functional cure.’”

In mouse trials, dCA was tested with a cocktail of anti-retroviral drugs and some mice only received anti-retroviral drugs. Those receiving just anti-retroviral drugs were observed to repress the virus until the 7th day when off the drugs. Those receiving both lasted 19 days before the virus re-activated.

“This is the only class of drugs that stops infected cells from making viruses outright,” continued Valente. “All current antivirals work later in the viral lifecycle, so only a HIV transcriptional inhibitor like dCA can stop the side effects of low-level virus production.”

It is currently unknown when a trial will be conducted on humans but the results are looking good. Valente and her team think longer treatments could result in a longer period of time before the virus reappears. It could also result in a permanent suppression.

Read the original article here