Scientists have found a characteristic of HIV that they hope can lead to advances in the efforts to cure HIV. According to researchers at Rockefeller University, the HIV virus has hidden reserves that lie dormant within white blood cells, possibly for years. This prevents the effective treatment of the disease.
White Cells Contain HIV Genes and Replicate
These white cells continue to replicate over time, which means they all carry the HIV genes and keep it alive and well within the sufferer’s body. Scientists believe this behavior is the same with certain cells that are long-term and help the body’s immune system remember certain pathogens. This would account for the fact that a patient can take drugs for decades and then still have AIDS inflict them if they choose to quit taking the preventative drug cocktails prescribed for HIV infections.
With the human genome’s size, the HIV virus was unlikely to insert itself in the same location on the code each time. However, when studied, it showed that the virus tended to be the same when found in insertions in various cloned cells and could not produce more of the virus. Instead, the virus inserts itself in a few key unique locations. Those instances were able to replicate the virus. Therefore, those instances need to be the focus of future medical efforts to contain and eliminate the virus.
Hope Remains Alive that HIV can be Cured
This discovery tells scientists a lot about the virus’s current ability to evade containment and completely be cured. Still, with the new details on HIV’s ability to insert itself into unique locations, there may be a way to create a new approach to treating the virus. This is good news, especially for those countries where HIV is still a top cause of death. Finding a solution to this particular method of the virus inserting itself means a big step toward the eventual eradication of the disease. This could mean great things in the world of medicine in the next few years. For now, it keeps the hope alive that the end of the terrorization by HIV is just over the horizon.