The War Against AIDS – One Step Closer?

 The War Against AIDS – One Step Closer?

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a slowly replicating retrovirus that causes AIDS, a condition that causes progressive failure of the immune system and makes the body prone to infections and cancers. One of the properties of this virus is that it burrows deep into the DNA of immune cells and ‘goes to sleep’ there, staying out of reach of traditional anti-HIV medicines.
So while medication can keep an AIDS patient healthy, it cannot kill a virus that has gone into hiding within the immune system.
Now, however, researchers at The Alfred Hospital, in collaboration with Monash University, have tasted success in using a cancer drug, vorinostat, to ‘awaken’ the sleeping virus so that it could be controlled better. The researchers have tried the drug on a sample of twenty patients and have succeeded in teasing out the virus in eighteen of them.
Amid the cheer, there is a note of caution. We’ve only succeeding in bringing out the virus, and now the question is how to discard the infected cell. This breakthrough is but a mere forward step in our ongoing battle with AIDS.

Sharath Komarraju

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