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Anti-Cancer Drug Activates Hidden HIV

Update Date: Jul 23, 2014 10:07 AM EDT

An anti-cancer drug activates hidden HIV, a new pilot study has shown.

The study reported that the anti-cancer drug romidespin increased the virus production in HIV-infected cells between 2.1 and 3.9 times above normal. Further, the viral load in the blood increased to measurable levels in five out of six patients with HIV infection.

The same group of researchers has previously shown that the drug panobinostat can activate hidden HIV in the cells. However this is the first time researchers have been able to demonstrate that it is possible to activate hidden virus to levels readably detectable in the blood by standard methods.

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, press release added.

"We have now shown that we can activate a hibernating virus with romidepsin and that the activated virus moves into the bloodstream in large amounts. This is a step in the right direction; but there is still a long way to go and many obstacles to overcome before we can start talking about a cure against HIV," added Ole Schmeltz Søgaard MD, Senior Researcher, Aarhus University and Department of Infectious Diseases, Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark in the press release.

The findings of the study were presented at the annual International AIDS conference in Melbourne, Australia.

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