New Research Shows Promise for Possible HIV Cure
Researchers have used radioimmunotherapy (RIT) to destroy remaining human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected cells in the blood samples of patients treated with antiretroviral therapy, offering the promise of a strategy for curing HIV infection.
Results of the study were presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).
Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has transformed the outlook for patients infected with HIV by suppressing the replication of the virus in the body. However, despite the success of HAART in effectively reducing the burden of HIV, scientists believe reservoirs of latently infected cells persist in the body, preventing the possibility of a permanent cure.
“In an HIV patient on HAART, drugs suppress viral replication, which means they keep the number of viral particles in a patient’s bloodstream very low. However, HAART cannot kill the HIV-infected cells,” said the study’s lead author, Ekaterina Dadachova, Ph.D., professor of radiology, microbiology and immunology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y. “Any strategy for curing HIV infection must include a method to eliminate viral-infected cells.”
The researchers found that RIT was able to kill HIV-infected lymphocytes previously treated with HAART, reducing the HIV infection in the blood samples to undetectable levels.