New and promising discoveries in HIV treatment
So many antiretroviral drugs or ART have been introduced to the world, which doesn’t necessarily eliminate HIV but could delay or completely stop the onset of AIDS.
As the world celebrates National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, let’s look into the new and hopeful discoveries for HIV treatment.
Targeting with a new HIV treatment
Most recently, scientists have found a new technique in attacking the HIV in people who have it.
HIV treatment, when taken continuously, can prevent the virus from advancing into AIDS, but some dormant HIV in the host body still remains in hiding.
If treatment is stopped or stops working, the virus is able to return. When this happens, the virus become as intense as it was prior to the treatment.
Scientists from US and Canada, however, have discovered a way of getting the dormant virus to come out.
By stimulating the hidden virus inside the body that the HIV treatment is unable to reach, doctors can now determine which of the cells have been keeping them alive and treat them with ART.
Using the drugs bryostatin and a derivative of Ingenol, which are also used to treat cancer, they wake up populations of cells, called central memory cells, to stimulate the virus out of hiding.
“We can wake up the virus and then find the rare cells that have been hiding it at very low numbers, a limit of one cell in a million,” senior author Dr. Daniel Kauffman wrote of the HIV treatment in the journal Cell Host and Microbe.
“This is an unprecedented level of accuracy, which opens the door to individualized monitoring of HIV-positive patients and could facilitate the development of personalized treatments,” Dr. Kauffman added.
Although this technique is relatively new, it brings hope to patients with HIV.
Glaxo’s HIV treatment is just two drugs
Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, on the other hand, is hoping to bring down ART from the usual three drugs to just two.
ViiV Healthcare, the HIV treatment arm of Glaxo, has developed a drug called dolutegravir to do the fighting.
Combined with existing ART drugs, this new drug isn’t only more capable, it can drastically bring down the cost of HIV treatment.
Right now, the current system is creating a triad of drug combinations to fight off the virus.
Already approved and being used with the standard three-drug therapy, it has been successful in addressing the virus for patients who have only recently started treatment.
Another benefit of bringing it down to just two is that there would be lesser side effects with one less drug.
All these HIV treatments may take a while to create an impact. But on this particular, it’s welcome news.