HIV Breakthrough Could Speed Up Cure

With the discovery of an important biomarker, latent HIV cells may become dormant for good and may no longer be capable of becoming active again.


Over a decade since the scientific community reached a consensus that HIV cannot be cured unless its ‘reservoir cells’ are targeted, it looks like progress is finally being made towards that direction.

‘Reservoir cells’ are cells that function as ‘hosts’ to the HIV virus while a patient is undergoing therapy. This means that as long as the patient is being treated, the HIV can stay safely hidden in these ‘secret containers’, evading antiviral treatments as well as the patient’s immune response system by not expressing any viral protein. As soon as treatment stops, however, the ‘sleeping’ virus suddenly comes alive, rapidly multiplying, making the disease gain momentum and progress once again.

This is the reason why HIV patients require lifetime treatment.

To change this, the obvious approach is to target and kill these ‘reservoir cells’. And the necessary first step to achieve this goal will be to identify these cells and differentiate them from ordinary healthy cells.

As reported by a French research team from the Institut de génétique humaine (CNRS/Montpellier University), this is exactly what they were able to do — they have identified a protein that meets the criteria for being a reservoir cell marker. The protein is called CD32a and it seems to be the only type of protein present on the surface of infected cells.

Of course, the team did not arrive at this conclusion right away. After they compared healthy and infected cells and found the CD32a protein, they went on to study blood samples from 12 HIV-infected patients presently receiving treatment. They isolated the cells that had the protein, and were able to confirm that nearly all of them carried the HIV virus. Based on lab experiments, activating these cells led to the production of viruses that were capable of reinfecting healthy cells. Conversely, eradicating these cells resulted in delaying production of such infective viruses.

Although HIV today is not as deadly as it used to be, in a way at least, given the fact drugs can keep it from proliferating uncontrollably, we still can’t say we have a permanent way to get rid of it. As long as ‘reservoir cells’ exist, the virus will always have a way to attack again.

With the discovery of CD32a, there may now be a way to combat this ‘sleeping’ virus and hopefully make it ‘sleep’ for good. While more tests need to be done to validate the team’s findings, there’s renewed hope that we may be on the way to developing a more effective way to treat HIV.

As Tony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease in Bethesda, Maryland, told Nature: “I really hope this is correct. The fact that this work has been done by such competent investigators, and the data looks good, makes me optimistic.”

The findings have been published in the journal Nature on March 15, 2017. And CNRS has already filed a patent for the diagnostic and therapeutic use of CD32a.

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10 Comments on HIV Breakthrough Could Speed Up Cure

  1. Our scientist must take the findings of university of israel very serious and try to see what they can do from that important step ahead, 97% decrease of hiv power from human body is reasonable this simply means we do have a cure and we only short with 3% before we may announce that the cure has finally being found let the world take this findings from university of israel serious because the world is sick

    • It would be a darker day for the US taxman and many investors. The capability of a cure already exists but there’s too many jobs and profits at stake

  2. But why they delay use of these finding to everyone before more lives are lost. Please give approval world out there is in despair

  3. I feel its all about the big assholes who are bribing the scientist and not disclosing the exact cure in the market. They will loose lot of money as they cannot sell the ART and other therapy drugs.

    But please be human. I have news from different sources that cure already been discovered but the powerful people and politics hinder its availability to general public.

  4. everyone says their is a cure irst then virus is coming in market if hiv treatment is aviable in any of medical sciences then give it to the people be humans money is nothing life is very precious of every human

  5. They think of money first and forget of life here after.The almighty God that bless you with wisdom shall also bless you with hell fire keep on with your money~money life.

  6. I understand the so called ethical issues and protocal regarding medical inventions,but whem scientists achieve 97 percent afficacy they should be allowed to avail the med to the world!!

  7. There will never be a cure while pharmaceuticals and governments make sky high profits. Everyone that is affected or knows someone affected by this disease is very aware of this fact and doesn’t understand why the media keeps on trying to place false hope on sufferers, families and friends.

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