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Health: Experts eliminate HIV in 40 percent of mice with techniques that force viruses out of hiding

New hope for an HIV cure? Researchers remove virus in 40% of mice using a 'kick and kill' technique that forces it out of hiding and makes it vulnerable to injections of killer immune cells

  • Patients with HIV typically take antiretroviral drugs to suppress the virus in their body
  • However, such drugs do not kill the virus, but inhibit it at points in its 'life cycle'
  • HIV is dormant in certain immune cells, ready to appear if treatment is stopped
  • Experts led by UCLA have shown that the 'kick and kill' approach promises
  • After activating the concealment virus, healthy natural killer cells are used to destroy it
  • The team seeks to make treatment more effective before human tests

A 'kick and kill' strategy that forces the human immunodeficiency virus out of the cells - making it vulnerable to injections of natural killer cells - offers hope for an HIV cure.

In laboratory experiments on 10 mice, the method was found to eliminate the virus in 40 percent of cases, said a team from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).

According to the UN, an estimated 38 million people worldwide are currently living with HIV, with the virus leading to around 36 million deaths in recent decades.

If refined and proven safe and effective in human trials, the concept could eliminate the need for people with HIV to be dependent on ongoing courses of antiretroviral drugs.

A "kick and kill" strategy that forces the human immunodeficiency virus (the image) out of the cells - and thus makes it vulnerable to existing antiviral drugs - gives hope for an HIV cure

HOW DOES THE 'KCK AND KILL' TECHNIQUE ELIMINATE HIV?

UCLA researchers used a strategy they called 'kicking and killing' to eliminate HIV in 40 percent of the mice studied.

The technique was first proposed back in 2017 and works by tricking the dormant virus into the infected cells to reveal itself using a compound called 'SUW133' so that it can be targeted and eliminated.

The researchers then injected healthy natural killer cells along with SUW133, which flushes HIV out of hiding, enabling them to completely eliminate HIV from 4 out of 10 infected mice.

With their initial study completed, the researchers are now working to refine their approach so as to successfully eliminate HIV in 100 percent of mouse cohorts in future experiments.

The study was conducted by infectious disease specialist Jocelyn Kim from UCLA and her colleagues.

"These results demonstrate proof-of-concept for a therapeutic strategy to potentially remove HIV from the body, a task that had been almost insurmountable for many years," said Dr. Kim.

'The study opens a new paradigm for a possible HIV cure in the future.'

At present, people with HIV take so-called antiretroviral drugs, which instead of killing the virus act to inhibit it at various stages in its 'life cycle' - such as. when it penetrates a host cell or when it grinds. out of new copies of itself.

Although this may suppress the virus to the extent that the host's viral load becomes both undetectable and non-transmissible, HIV will still remain dormant in their system and hide in CD4 + T cells, which usually help coordinate immune responses.

When people with HIV stop taking their antiretroviral treatment, the virus can escape from these boltholes and continue to replicate itself in the body - weakening the immune system and increasing the risk of potentially deadly cancers and infections.

The team's strategy - which they have dubbed 'kick and kill' and were first proposed back in 2017 - works by tricking the dormant virus into the infected cells to reveal itself using a compound called 'SUW133' so it can be targeted and eliminated.

In a previous study, which looked at HIV-infected mice whose immune systems had been altered to match humans, the experts found that treatment with both SUW133 and antiretroviral agents killed up to 25 percent of the infected cells within 24 hours.

Looking for a more effective way to remove the infected cells, the researchers instead turned to so-called natural killer cells, which are produced by the body's immune system, which, as the name suggests, can kill infected cells or tumor cells.

By injecting healthy natural killer cells along with SUW133, which flushes HIV out of hiding, the team was able to completely eliminate HIV from 4 out of 10 infected mice.

The researchers were careful to analyze the mice's spleen in particular, as this organ is known to house immune cells such as the CD4 + T cells, in which HIV can lie dormant.

With their initial study completed, the researchers are now working to refine their approach so as to successfully eliminate HIV in 100 percent of mouse cohorts in future experiments.

"We will also move this research toward preclinical studies in non-human primates with the ultimate goal of testing the same approach on humans," said Dr. Kim.

The full results of the study were published in the journal Nature Communications.

WHY MODERN MEDICINE MEANS, HIV IS NOT A DEATH DEATH

Before 1996, HIV was a death sentence. Then ART (anti-retroviral therapy) was made, which suppresses the virus, and this means that a person can live as long as anyone else, despite having HIV.

Drugs were also invented to lower an HIV-negative person's risk of becoming infected with the virus by 99%.

In recent years, research has shown that ART can suppress HIV to such an extent that it makes the virus non-communicable to sexual partners.

It has spurred a movement to downgrade the crime of infecting a person with HIV: it leaves the victim on lifelong, expensive medication, but it does not mean a certain death.

Here's more about the new life-saving and preventative drugs:

Medicines for HIV-positive people

It suppresses their viral load so that the virus cannot be transmitted

In 1996, antiretroviral therapy (ART) was discovered.

The drug, a triple combination, turned HIV from a fatal diagnosis to a manageable chronic condition.

It suppresses the virus and prevents it from developing into AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), which renders the body unable to resist infections.

After six months of religiously taking the daily pill, it suppresses the virus to such an extent that it cannot be detected.

And once a person's viral load is undetectable, they can not transmit HIV to anyone else, according to dozens of studies, including a decade-long study by the National Institutes of Health.

Public health agencies around the world now recognize that U = U (undetectable equals non-transferable).

2. Medicines for HIV-negative people

It is 99% effective in preventing HIV

PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) became available in 2012.

This pill works like 'that pill '- it is taken daily and is 99 percent effective in preventing HIV infection (more effective than birth control pills in preventing pregnancy).

It consists of two drugs (tenofovir dosproxil fumarate and emtricitabine). These drugs can trigger an immediate attack on any trace of HIV that enters the person's bloodstream before it is able to spread throughout the body.

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