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.

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

Potential new HIV therapy seen in immune cells

June 29, 2015

A research team led by Weill Cornell Medical College scientists has discovered a way to limit replication of the most common form of HIV at a key moment when the infection is just starting to develop. The study, published ...

Vitamin D status related to immune response to HIV-1

June 15, 2015

Vitamin D plays an important part in the human immune response and deficiency can leave individuals less able to fight infections like HIV-1. Now an international team of researchers has found that high-dose vitamin D supplementation ...

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.