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The Cure

Cancer Drugs 'Flush Out' HIV

Cancer Drugs 'Flush Out' HIV


'Kick and kill' strategy shows promise using skin cancer treatment.

HIV researchers announced promising results of their "kick and kill" strategy using a cancer drug, according to the BBC

In the most recent use of kick and kill, a team of researchers at University of California Davis School of Medicine tested the molecule PEP005, an active ingredient in a treatment to prevent cancer in those with sun-damanged skin. Their study showed that PEP005 worked well at reactivating HIV and could lead to new compounds to eradicate the disease. In combination with a JQ1, an additional compound, PEP005 was able to activate HIV at a rate 15 times greater than just PEP005 on its own.

"This molecule has great potential to advance into translational and clinical studies," said. Dr. Satya Dandekar, chair of the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology at UC Davis.

While the compound shows promise in laboratory trials, it has yet to be tested on an HIV-positive person. Still, researchers and those who reviewed the study told the BBC that they thought the results were promising in identifying a group of compounds that could be used to kick and kill HIV. 

"First we need to identify the best combination of latency-activating agents," Dandekar said. "Then we must help patients clear these reactivated cells. Just reactivating the HIV from latency won't be enough."

The strategy involves prodding dormant HIV out of its hiding places in the body in order to help the immune system and ARV drugs to identify it and eradicate it. The strategy is considered the key to a cure and was demonstrated most recently in April, by Gilead Sciences who used a newly developed drug to coax HIV out of latency so the immune system could attack it. Gilead had based their study on results of a drug used for hepatisis B. 

Results of Gilead's tests on HIV-positive people have not been announced yet. 


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