New Research Findings Could Lead to 'Functional Cure' for HIV
Scientists at the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have announced a "proof-of-concept for a 'functional cure'" for HIV in a mouse study published online in the journal Cell Reports. TSRI associate professor Susana Valente, PhD, called it a "block-and-lock" approach to developing anti-retrovirals - that is, blocking reactivation of the virus in cells and locking HIV into a state of latency. The TSRI researchers were able to block HIV replication in infected cells while also preventing "viral rebound."
In the Florida study, researchers looked at a combination therapy using standard anti-retrovirals and the new drug in mice. When the treatment regimen stopped, viral rebound was delayed for as long as 19 days, compared with a week in mice receiving only anti-retroviral treatment.
"No other anti-retroviral used in the clinic today is able to completely suppress viral production in infected cells in vivo," Valente stated in a TSRI press release. "When combining this drug [a derivative of a natural compound called didehydro-Cortistatin A (dCA)] with the standard cocktail of anti-retrovirals used to suppress infection in humanized mouse models of HIV-1 infection, our study found a drastic reduction in virus RNA present…"