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Potential Cure for HIV Discovered

then cease to produce the virus for months or even years.

"Numerous attempts have been made to activate these cells, with the hope that such strategies would sensitize the accompanying viruses to antiviral drugs, leading to virus eradication," Engelman wrote. "Advances with such approaches in patients have been slow to materialize."

New experiments must be designed to see if the Tre enzyme can be used to recognize these dormant infected cells, he wrote.

"Although favorable results would represent perhaps only a baby step toward eventual use in patients, the discovery of the Tre recombinase proves that enzymatic removal of integrated HIV-1 from human chromosomes is a current-day reality," he said.

The researchers who developed the enzyme were optimistic about their ability to design additional enzymes which would target other parts of the virus's DNA.

However they warned that there were significant barriers to overcome before the enzyme could be used to help cure patients.

"The most important, and likely most difficult, among these is that the enzyme would need efficient and safe means of delivery and would have to be able to function without adverse side effects," wrote lead author Indrani Sarkar of the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden.

"Nevertheless the results we present offer an early proof of principal for this type of approach, which we speculate might form a useful basis for the development of future HIV therapies," Sarkar concluded.


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