Cancer Drug "Wakes Up" Hidden HIV
the MPR take:
A study presented at the AIDS 2014 conference showed that the cancer drug romidepsin can reactivate dormant HIV in CD4 cells, with the hope that T-cells would then be able to destroy the infected CD4 cells. Researchers at Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark administered three once-weekly romidepsin infusions to six adults with HIV who were on antiretroviral therapy and had an undetectable viral load. Romidepsin increased the production of the virus in HIV-infected cells between 2.1–3.9 times above normal; the viral load in the blood increased to measurable levels in five of the six patients. As the virus is activated and moves towards the bloodstream, a trace of the virus remains on the outside of the infected CD4 cells. Theoretically, killer T-cells could then detect and destroy the HIV-infected CD4 cells. Results of this trial will be applied to a larger trial, combining romidepsin with an investigational vaccine to see whether the two together can increase the ability of T-cells to fight the virus. Romidepsin is a histone deacetylase inhibitor indicated for the treatment of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma in patients ≥18 years of age who have received at least one prior systemic therapy and for the treatment of peripheral T-cell lymphoma in patients ≥18 years of age who have received at least one prior therapy.
"There is still a long way to go and many obstacles to overcome before we can start talking about a cure against HIV," said Ole Schmeltz Sogaard, who led the research team from Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, in a statement. Scientists working to find a cure know the virus can hide in a state of hibernation in cells called CD4 cells, which are part of the body's immune system.
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