Cure for HIV/AIDS has still not been found and so far Antiretroviral therapy (ART) medicines are just able to suppress the virus for some time. But as soon as ART meds are stopped, the HIV cells become active again and in certain cases, their effect is also increased. ART therapy cannot completely eradicate the AIDS virus as they form reservoirs inside immune cells.
While the whole process of reservoirs formation is yet unknown, scientists have been researching it and trying to find a solution. The latest study from the University of North Carolina has discovered a shocking breakthrough that could help to make the ART and other treatments better and more effective.
Research on HIV Infected Blood Cells
Ronald Swanstrom and Carolyn Williamson carried out an experiment to study and understand in detail about the HIV reservoir origins. They took HIV blood samples from nine African Women before and after their treatment. The aim was to study the HIV reservoir strains which form in their CD4 T cells at different stages of treatment.
Dr. Ron Swanstrom and colleagues show that the #HIV latent reservoir is formed in response to ART versus prior to. This paper in Science Translational Medicine suggests new strategies to limit reservoir formation! https://t.co/3milBm402w #hivcure #AIDS #viralload #UNC @ScienceTM pic.twitter.com/6Uc8OGZoBH
— Office of Research, School of Medicine, UNC-CH (@OoR_UNC) October 10, 2019
Researchers discover that the latent #HIV reservoir that persists during antiretroviral treatment mostly reflects viruses present in the blood at the start of antiretroviral treatment. https://t.co/iixQu3r33p pic.twitter.com/qPPh1rmJBV
— Willy Wang Story🗯 (@WillyWangStory) October 9, 2019
When the results came out everyone was shocked to find out that 71 percent of viral strains belonged tp the strains form at the start of the treatment. It simply means that the therapy either helped in the reservoir formation or it stabilized the same to grow at a later stage.
Improved ART and Other Treatment Methods
Swanstrom and Williamson have also their research validate by a 2016 eLife study which said that DNA in the dormant reservoir is very close to the HIV strains sequence that started just before treatment. The scientists are now studying in detail about how the reservoir is formed and antiretroviral treatment is related to it.
The aim is to combine the HIV ART medicines with another drug that can stop inhibits the transition of CD4 T cells and stop the formation of the viral reservoir from the start. It is focused on the fact that an AIDS infected patient can stop the therapy without the fear of the virus coming back.