News / Health

Cancer Drug Unmasks HIV in Immune Cells

A member of the audience looks at slides during a speech given by leading AIDS vaccine official in Washington, July 25, 2012.
A member of the audience looks at slides during a speech given by leading AIDS vaccine official in Washington, July 25, 2012.
Jessica Berman
WASHINGTON — People infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, must take anti-retroviral drugs for the rest of their lives in order to control their disease. 

Otherwise, reservoirs of dormant virus hiding within the immune system can become active, and the infection can reemerge. Now, researchers have discovered that a cancer drug can dislodge these latent copies of the AIDS virus. They view the development as a critical step toward curing HIV-infected people.

HIV has evolved a way to survive inside the human body by integrating itself into the genetic architecture of immune-system T-cells, the specialized white blood cells targeted by the AIDS virus. Anti-retroviral drugs can suppress HIV to near undetectable levels, giving the immune system a chance to repair itself. But the AIDS virus is always lurking in miniscule numbers - roughly one in every million T cells - and threatening to come back to life should an individual ever stop taking the anti-retroviral cocktail.  

Now, researchers have succeeded in flushing this latent virus out of its hiding place, with a drug used to treat lymphoma, a rare and potentially deadly cancer of the lymphatic system.  

David Margolis, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill has been studying how HIV hides, dormant, within immune-system cells, says that in some lymphomas, the drug, vorinostat, makes cancer cells die. But Margolis adds that in HIV-infected cells, the cancer drug causes the latent virus to show itself.

“Theoretically, doing this clinically would be a way to sort of unmask the hidden virus; flush the virus out of hiding," he says. "And that might then allow us to develop ways to get rid of the leftover virus in people that are on treatment so they could stop treatment and there would be nowhere for the virus to come back from.”

Margolis and his colleagues studied eight HIV-infected patients who were medically stable on anti-retroviral therapy. Their levels of HIV CD4 T cells, which the virus uses to reproduce itself, were measured both before and after the men were given vorinostat.

“What we saw in every single person was a tiny amount of virus detectable before the dose of the drug," he says. "And the amount of virus that was detectable went up on average about five-fold, five times, after a single exposure to the drug.”

Margolis says his so-called “proof of concept” experiment demonstrates that HIV can be flushed out of hiding with vorinostat and then targeted for destruction by anti-AIDS drugs.

But none of the participants was cured, he adds.

Margolis was joined in the work by researchers at the U.S. National Cancer Institute, Harvard University School of Public Health in Massachusetts, the University of California San Diego and Merck and Company, the maker of vorinostat.

Their article on the use of the cancer drug vorinostat in the treatment of HIV was published in the journal Nature.

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More