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Anti-cancer drug kicks HIV out of hiding
Date:7/22/2014

A pilot study by HIV researchers from Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark has shown that an anti-cancer drug can activate hidden HIV. The researchers found that the anti-cancer drug romidepsin increased the virus production in HIV-infected cells between 2.1 and 3.9 times above normal and that the viral load in the blood increased to measurable levels in five out of six patients with HIV infection.

A pilot study

The results were presented today as breaking news at the annual international AIDS conference in Melbourne, Australia. The pilot study is part of a larger study investigating the possibilities of combining activation of HIV and a vaccine to strengthen the ability of the immune system to fight HIV.

The group of researchers from Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital has previously shown that the drug panobinostat can activate hidden HIV in the cells but for the first time the researchers have been demonstrated that it is possible to activate hidden virus to levels readably detectable in the blood by standard methods.

Activated HIV leaves traces

HIV can hide in a "state of hibernation" in the so-called CD4 cells. These cells are a part of the body's immune system, but the CD4 cells cannot fight the virus themselves; killer T-cells can. However, killer T-cells cannot tell if a CD4 cell contains "hibernating" HIV virus. That is why HIV continues to be a chronic disease. HIV infection can be kept down by medicine but there is still no cure which can eradicate HIV from the body.

The results presented by the researchers at Aarhus University Hospital and Aarhus University are interesting; when the virus is activated and moves towards the bloodstream it leaves a trace on the outside of the infected CD4 cells. In principle this means that the killer T cells can now trace and destroy the HIV-infected CD4 cells.

Immune system is not stro
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Contact: Ole Schmeltz Søgaard
ole.schmeltz.sogaard@clin.au.dk
45-27-21-59-85
Aarhus University
Source:Eurekalert

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