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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population 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.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid