UCLA researchers come closer to finding possible cure for HIV

UCLA researchers have come one step closer to finding a cure for the human immunodeficiency virus by targeting infected cells that may be dormant in the body.

In a study published in the journal Nature Communication this week, researchers improved a method originally developed in 2017 to kill hidden HIV-infected cells using cells naturally produced by the body’s immune system.

This advance brings scientists closer to controlling or even eradicating the virus, which attacks the body’s immune system.

“These results show proof of concept for a therapeutic strategy to potentially eliminate HIV from the body, a task that has been nearly insurmountable for many years,” said Jocelyn Kim, the study’s lead author. said in a press release. “The study opens a new paradigm for a possible HIV cure in the future.”


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Globally, 38 million people are currently living with HIV, and an estimated 36 million have died of HIV-related illnesses since the 1980s. according to UNAIDS. Over time, HIV can turn into acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS, a chronic and life-threatening disease.

People diagnosed with HIV usually take antiretroviral drugs to keep the virus at bay, but HIV still has the ability to evade antiretrovirals by sleeping in cells called CD4+ T cells.

The UCLA researchers’ recent findings build on a strategy devised in 2017 called “hit and kill.” In this study, mice whose immune systems had been modified to mimic that of humans were infected with HIV and given antiretroviral drugs.

After administering a synthetic compound to activate dormant HIV in mice, researchers observed that up to 25% of previously dormant cells died within 24 hours.

This time, the researchers used the same compound to ‘drive HIV-infected cells out of hiding’, before injecting ‘healthy natural killer cells’ into the mice’s blood.

In 40% of infected mice, HIV was completely eliminated.

According to Kim, his team’s next goal is to develop an approach that eliminates HIV in 100% of mice tested in other experiments.

“We will also direct this research towards preclinical studies in non-human primates with the ultimate goal of testing the same approach in humans,” she said.


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