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article imageBattling HIV with novel cancer drug

By Tim Sandle     Jul 31, 2015 in Science
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) can be "flushed out" from hiding places in the human body by using a drug normally used to treat cancer, according to a new study.
While modern anti-retroviral drugs are effective at killing HIV in the bloodstream, the risk remains that pockets of HIV remain untouched by the therapy. This is because HIV can enter into a dormant state.
To counteract the dormancy effect, scientists have investigated a drug called PEP005. The active ingredient is one of the components in an established treatment to prevent cancer in skin that has been excessively exposed to sunlight.
The effectiveness of the drug to entice out dormant HIV was demonstrated in studies using cells and then confirmed in a clinical trial involving 13 volunteer patients, infected with HIV. The studies were successful, showing that the reactivated HIV can then be killed using conventional anti-retroviral drugs.
Commenting on the experimental outcomes, Dr Satya Dandekar, told BBC Science: "We are excited to have identified an outstanding candidate for HIV reactivation and eradication that is already approved and is being used in patients. This molecule has great potential to advance into translational and clinical studies."
Although the results are successful to date, further trials are required before an effective therapy can be proposed. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration(FDA), for example, will need to ratify and approve the findings.
The new research was performed at UC Davis School of Medicine and it has been published in the journal PLoS Pathogens. The research paper is lengthily titled "Synergistic Reactivation of Latent HIV Expression by Ingenol-3-Angelate, PEP005, Targeted NF-kB Signaling in Combination with JQ1 Induced p-TEFb Activation."
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