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How Cancer Drugs are Being Used to Flush Out HIV

25/08/2015

How Cancer Drugs are Being Used to Flush Out HIVScientists have developed a way of flushing HIV out of its hiding places in the body using a cancer drug, combating its survival mechanism and killing it in the bloodstream.

Dormant HIV reservoirs are targeted by the “highly potent” cancer drug and while more testing is needed, experts have described the treatment as “interesting”.

Researchers at the UC Davis School of Medicine in California believe that a skin cancer drug known as PEP005 may be able to “kick and kill” these hidden HIV reservoirs. At present, anti-retroviral therapy – the “cornerstone” of cancer treatment – kills HIV in the bloodstream, but leaves its reservoirs untouched.

According to their report, "PEP005 is highly potent in reactivating latent HIV". It’s one of a number of "lead compounds for combating HIV".

It’s the “kick and kill” strategy that interests scientists the most. The kick effectively wakes up the dormant virus allowing the drugs to kill it.

Dr Satya Dandekar, who led the research study, said: "We are excited to have identified an outstanding candidate for HIV reactivation and eradication that is already approved and is being used in patients.

"This molecule has great potential to advance into translational and clinical studies."

The down side is that the drug has still not yet been tested in people who are HIV-positive. So while the research carries immense amounts of potential, a significant amount of testing and further investigation is needed.

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