Scientists have announced they have destroyed cells infected with HIV, which means a cure could be even closer to becoming a reality.
According to an update posted to EurekaAlert, the “global source for science news,” researchers at the Institut Pasteur in Paris have “have identified the characteristics of CD4 T lymphocytes that are preferentially infected by the virus.” It is the energy-producing activity that allows the virus to multiply.
“Thanks to metabolic activity inhibitors, the researchers have managed to destroy these infected cells, or ’reservoirs,’ ex vivo,” the researchers explain. “The antiretroviral treatment used today is designed to block HIV infection but it is not able to eliminate the virus from the body. The virus remains in reservoirs—the CD4 T lymphocyte immune cells, the main targets of HIV.”
The report concludes with the Insitut Pasteur scientists announcing this opens new ways “towards possible remission through the elimination of reservoir cells,” and “the next research phase will involve assessing the potential of these metabolic inhibitors in vivo”—which means testing on living organisms.
According to the Daily Mail, the theory is “if the viral load is low enough, destroying the cell HIV hides in and draws energy from could keep it from spreading in the body and, perhaps, eradicate it altogether, it is hoped.”
This comes just a few weeks after the news that the Trump administration had quietly put a stop to scientists employed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) acquiring new human fetal tissue for experiments, leading to a shutdown of vital HIV/AIDS research.