Scientists at the Paris Institut Pasteur announced a possible major breakthrough in the battle against HIV/AIDS. Current treatments for the disease involve the use of antiretroviral medications, which are not capable of eradicating the virus. The newly discovered option may actually destroy infected cells, potentially paving the way for a cure.
While there are treatments for HIV/AIDS available today, they don’t have the ability to remove the virus from the body.
The scientists found a method for eliminating infected “reservoir” cells, according to a report by the Daily Mail, creating a possible approach for ridding the body of the disease.
“The antiretroviral treatment used today is designed to block HIV infection, but it is not able to eliminate the virus from the body,” said a spokesperson for Institut Pasteur in a press release. “The virus remains in reservoirs – the CD4 T lymphocyte immune cells, the main targets of HIV.”
HIV goes after cells with high metabolic activity rates. The virus “hijacks” the energy of the target cell and uses it to multiply.
“Thanks to metabolic activity inhibitors, the researchers have managed to destroy these infected cells, or ‘reservoirs,’ ex vivo,” the spokesperson continued.
The press release ends by stating that the scientists’ research creates possible pathways for the eradication of the virus from a human body through the elimination of reservoir cells.
While the discovery is a breakthrough, more research is necessary to determine whether it could help people infected with HIV or AIDS. The next step involves assessing the use of metabolic inhibitors “in vivo,” which means testing them in living organisms.
The hope is that, by destroying cells that hide HIV and that serve as a source of energy for the virus, the spread of the disease through the body could be slowed. In a best-case scenario, it may even create a cure.