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University of Michigan scientists discover bone marrow can harbor HIV-infected cells
Date:3/8/2010

ANN ARBOR, Mich. University of Michigan scientists have identified a new reservoir for hidden HIV-infected cells that can serve as a factory for new infections. The findings, which appear online March 7 in Nature Medicine, indicate a new target for curing the disease so those infected with the virus may someday no longer rely on AIDS drugs for a lifetime.

"Antiviral drugs have been effective at keeping the virus at bay. However once the drug therapy is stopped, the virus comes back," says senior author of the study Kathleen L. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of both internal medicine and microbiology and immunology at the U-M Medical School.

In people infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), the virus that causes AIDS, there's an unsolved problem with current anti-viral drugs. Though life-saving, they cannot root the virus out of the body. Infected cells are able to live on, undetected by the immune system, and provide the machinery for the virus to reproduce and spread.

Important new research by U-M has discovered that bone marrow, previously thought to be resistant to the virus, can contain latent forms of the infection. They are not affected by current anti-HIV drug regimens.

"This finding is important because it helps explain why it's hard to cure the disease," Collins says. "Ultimately to cure this disease, we're going to have to develop specific strategies aimed at targeting these latently infected cells."

"Currently people have to take anti-viral drugs for their entire life to control the infection," she says. "It would be easier to treat this disease in countries that don't have the same resources as we do with a course of therapy for a few months, or even years. But based on what we know now people have to stay on drugs for their entire life."

Using tissue samples, U-M researchers detected HIV genomes in bone marrow isolated from people effectively treated with antiv
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Contact: Shantell M. Kirkendoll
smkirk@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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