Cancer drug may help eradicate latent HIV infection

HIV naked eye

Scientists have discovered that a cancer drug may be useful in purging latent HIV infection by activating the virus and making it 'visible' to drugs that can treat the condition.

In a report published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, researchers used cell lines that contained latent HIV, as well as cells from patients who were on potent antiretroviral therapy with no detectable virus in their blood.

Researchers then added the cancer drug, JQ1, to latently infected cells, at physiologic concentrations, and observed potent reactivation of latent HIV.

The study observed potent suppression of inflammatory genes in genome-wide expression studies using the same cells.

JQ1 reactivation of latent HIV may make it vulnerable to current therapies, researchers believe.

"This drug may be useful as adjunctive therapy in efforts to purge latent HIV reservoirs to eradicate infection," said Monty A Montano, principal investigator from Boston University Medical Campus.

"This drug functions synergistically with other HIV purging agents," Montano said in a statement.

"One thing that's been made clear by the decades of HIV research is that there is no magic bullet for curing this disease," said John Wherry, Deputy Editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.

"Rather, the progress that's been made has been a series of incremental steps that often build on other previously developed therapies.

The hope is that the ability of JQ1 to make latent HIV 'visible' to other HIV drugs described in this report will be another cog in the gearwheel of an HIV cure," Wherry said.

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