The future of fighting the AIDS epidemic and possibly leading to HIV eradication rests on two new approaches. Drugs that activate the latent cells and gene therapy are the two new possible strategies in the future fight against the disease.
Toulon, France (August 19, 2011) — HIV in its early years seemed like an impossible virus to cure. The best patients could hope for was a treatment to prolong their life and allow them to live as productively as possible with the disease. HIV was and is terminal, but today the virus and its effects on the body can be kept under control for a time, which gives the patient hope for the future. The antiretroviral drugs introduced in the mid ‘90s suppressed the disease and for while gave people with HIV hope for a productive life while in remission. Researchers have discovered two new options in hopes of HIV eradication and these include new drugs and gene therapy.
Since the AIDS virus is hard to eradicate because of its ability to duplicate and place itself in other cells, the antiretroviral drugs worked well with interfering with the replication of cells, but researchers discovered another problem. They found what they refer to as ‘reservoirs’ where lingering viruses hide and emerge later to re-infect the patient after drugs were discontinued. As research continues, the future of fighting the AIDS epidemic and possibly leading to HIV eradication rests on two new approaches. Drugs that activate the latent cells and gene therapy are the two possible strategies in the future fight against the disease.
With the discovery that HIV needs a protein called CCR5 to be able to attach and infect a cell, some are confident in the use of gene therapy. The protein CCR5 is found on the surface of white blood cells and people born with a deleted protein are resistant to HIV infection. This information may mean that with research and testing, a gene therapy may be available in the future that may be safer for the patient and produce promising results in HIV eradication.
The new drugs work by activating latent cells and making the antiretroviral drugs able to interfere with their processes as well, so they cannot hide and reemerge later. There are some issues with the new drugs. Some doctors feel that the drugs may target other cells and lead to adverse side effects for the patient. The gene therapy works by extracting a patient’s cells, genetically modifying them in the lab and injecting them back into the patient’s body. Some doctors believe that gene therapy is scientifically flawed. They go on to argue that it also risky for the patient. When dealing with a virus like HIV that is able to replicate itself and lay dormant means continued research and global support are needed to help with HIV eradication.
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