Cancer drug 'can target HIV virus'

26 July 2012

A drug commonly used to treat cancer patients has been found to flush out dormant HIV viruses in a new US study.

Experts at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill made the discovery during tests to evaluate the potential of the drug vorinostat, a deacetylase inhibitor that is commonly used to treat some types of lymphoma.

They observed that it can help to target existence of persistent reservoirs of dormant HIV in the immune system that are not attacked by anti-AIDS drugs.

This is a major reason why infection re-emerges once patients stop taking their HIV medication, and the specialists now claim that vorinostat provides a gateway to permanently clearing these reservoirs so that a cure for AIDS can be found.

Lead author Dr David Margolis, professor of medicine, microbiology, immunology and epidemiology at the University of North Carolina, said the study provides "compelling evidence" for a new strategy to directly attack and eradicate latent HIV infections.

"Long-term, widespread use of antiretrovirals has personal and public health consequences, including side effects, financial costs, and community resistance. We must seek other ways to end the epidemic, and this research provides new hope for a strategy to eradicate HIV completely from the body," he added.

Posted by Philip Briggs


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