Researchers at the University of California San Diego have found a way to kill “dormant” human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Today, HIV means the need for lifelong antiretroviral therapy to delay the development of AIDS. This method is not a full-fledged treatment, because the virus does not get killed, but it is just “put to asleep” in a patient’s cells. Once therapy is discontinued, HIV gets activated.
Scientists have long believed that the virus could be destroyed while in dormant state, but could not find a way to do it. It seems that a solution has now been found.
The key to HIV treatment is HEAL, an RNA molecule involved in protein replication in HIV cells. Scientists have suggested that the destruction of the molecule could neutralize the virus. To that end, they conducted a series of experiments, during which they switched off or removed HEAL, whereupon HIV stopped reproducing, even if all other conditions for it were perfect.
At the moment, the scientists are getting ready to perform experiments on animals. If they succeed, the method will be tested in humans.
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