Addictive properties of drug abuse may hold key to an HIV cure

September 21, 2012

A Florida State University researcher is on a mission to explore the gene-controlling effects of addictive drugs in pursuit of new HIV treatments.

Working under the support of a $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Florida State biologist Jonathan Dennis is studying a unique ability shared between a promising class of known as histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDIs) and such as cocaine.

"Current HIV treatments do just that—they treat the disease by preventing the spread of HIV in the body, rather than eliminating the disease entirely," Dennis said. "I want to find out how to root out those dormant HIV cells that are evading the treatment, and I believe the gene-controlling functions shared by HDIs and psychostimulant drugs hold the key to helping us do that."

HDI and such as cocaine share the ability to control through changes in the chromatin structure within DNA. In the case of HDI treatment, the chromatin changes are used to wake up dormant cells that are hiding in the body.

Dennis believes that addictive drugs do the same thing. Dennis' work will focus on identifying and understanding the overlapping gene changes that occur between these two types of substances, ultimately providing other researchers with the foundational information they need to turn HDI treatments into HIV cures.

To learn more about the scope and purpose of Dennis' NIH grant, visit the grant website. To learn more about Dennis, visit his Department of Biological Science website.

Explore further: New book on HIV from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press

Related Stories

New book on HIV from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press

December 15, 2011

The worldwide AIDS epidemic makes research on HIV, the disease processes it induces, and potential HIV therapies among the most critical in biomedical science. Furthermore, the basic biology of HIV infections provides a model ...

Mechanism of HIV spread has potential for future drug therapy

April 23, 2012

A new understanding of the initial interactions of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and dendritic cells is described by Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) researchers in a study currently featured in the ...

Recommended for you

Researchers find alternative pathways to HIV antibodies

May 4, 2016

The immune system appears to hamper an investigational vaccine from inducing antibodies that protect against HIV infection, but there may be ways to overcome this impediment, according to research led by the Duke Human Vaccine ...

Fireflies light the way to female HIV transmission

April 27, 2016

Finding the vulnerable points where HIV enters the female reproductive tract is like searching for needles in a haystack. But Northwestern Medicine scientists have solved that challenge by creating a glowing map of the very ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.