Cancer drug shows promise in eradicating latent HIV infection

November 29, 2012

Breakthrough drugs have made it possible for people to live with HIV longer than ever before, but more work must be done to actually cure the disease. One of the challenges researchers face involves fully eradicating the virus when it is latent in the body. A new report appearing in the December 2012 issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology suggests that a cancer drug, called JQ1, may be useful in purging latent HIV infection by activating the virus in the presence of potent therapy – essentially a dead end for the virus.

"This drug may be useful as adjunctive therapy in efforts to purge latent HIV reservoirs to eradicate infection," said Monty A. Montano, Ph.D., principal investigator from the Section of at Boston University Medical Campus, in Boston, Mass. "This drug functions synergistically with other HIV purging agents."

To make this discovery, scientists used cell lines that contained latent HIV, as well as cells from patients who were on potent antiretroviral therapy with no detectable virus in their blood. Researchers then added JQ1 to latently infected cells, at physiologic concentrations, and observed potent reactivation of latent HIV. The researchers also observed potent suppression of inflammatory genes in genome-wide expression studies using the same cells. JQ1 reactivation of latent HIV may make it vulnerable to current therapies.

"One thing that's been made clear by the decades of is that there is no magic bullet for curing this disease," said John Wherry, Ph.D., Deputy Editor of the . "Rather, the progress that's been made has been a series of incremental steps that often build on other previously developed therapies. The hope is that the ability of JQ1 to make latent HIV 'visible' to other described in this report will be another cog in the gearwheel of an HIV cure."

Explore further: Waking up dormant HIV

More information: Camellia Banerjee, Nancie Archin, Daniel Michaels, Anna C. Belkina, Gerald V. Denis, James Bradner, Paola Sebastiani, David M. Margolis, and Monty Montano. BET bromodomain inhibition as a novel strategy for reactivation of HIV-1. J Leukoc Biol December 2012 92:1147-1154, doi:10.1189/jlb.0312165

Related Stories

Waking up dormant HIV

March 16, 2009

HAART (highly active anti-retroviral therapy) has emerged as an extremely effective HIV treatment that keeps virus levels almost undetectable; however, HAART can never truly eradicate the virus as some HIV always remains ...

Bone marrow can harbor HIV-infected cells (w/ Video)

March 7, 2010

University of Michigan scientists have identified a new reservoir for hidden HIV-infected cells that can serve as a factory for new infections. The findings, which appear online March 7 in Nature Medicine, indicate a new ...

Ridding the human body of HIV

December 2, 2010

A new Northwestern Medicine study will undertake a bold new protocol to completely eradicate latent HIV cells that current drugs don't affect. Participants, with diagnosed HIV, in the experimental group will be given an investigational ...

Drug helps purge hidden HIV virus, study shows

March 8, 2012

A team of researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have successfully flushed latent HIV infection from hiding, with a drug used to treat certain types of lymphoma.

HIV hides soon after infection, research shows

May 30, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- A team of researchers led by the University of North Carolina School of Medicine has demonstrated that latency develops soon after infection and slows when antiretroviral therapy is given.

Recommended for you

Mutational tug of war over HIV's disease-inducing potential

August 23, 2016

A study from Emory AIDS researchers shows how the expected disease severity when someone is newly infected by HIV reflects a balance between the virus' invisibility to the host's immune system and its ability to reproduce.

Dormant copies of HIV mostly defective, new study shows

August 8, 2016

After fully sequencing the latent HIV "provirus" genomes from 19 people being treated for HIV, scientists at Johns Hopkins Medicine report that even in patients who start treatment very early, the only widely available method ...

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.