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Medical News

Cancer Drug May Help HIV Fight

March 12, 2012

A drug used to treat some kinds of lymphoma may have potential for eradicating HIV entirely from the body, suggests a study presented in Seattle Thursday at the 19th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. Earlier studies of the drug, vorinostat, found it attacks the enzymes that keep HIV hiding in CD4+ T-cell reservoirs.

The study involved six HIV-infected men who were stable on antiretroviral therapy. Within hours of receiving a single dose of vorinostat, all six had a significant boost in detectable forms of HIV within the cells. The hidden virus had been, at least mildly, "switched on," or forced to show itself.

"This proves for the first time that there are ways to specifically treat viral latency, the first step towards curing HIV infection," said lead researcher Dr. David Margolis, a professor at the University of North Carolina (UNC)-Chapel Hill. "It shows that this class of drugs, HDAC [histone deacetylase] inhibitors, can attack persistent virus. Vorinostat may not be the magic bullet, but this success shows us a new way to test drugs to target latency, and suggests that we can build a path that may lead to a cure."

Vorinostat is marketed under the brand name Zolinza by Merck & Co.

Next steps include exploring HDAC inhibitors' effects on HIV, HIV's response to multiple doses, and other variables, said Margolis, whose team is part of the UNC-led national Collaboratory of AIDS Researchers for Eradication. The consortium last year won a $32 million federal grant to study ways to eliminate hidden reservoirs of HIV.

Back to other news for March 2012

Adapted from:
News and Observer (Raleigh NC)
03.09.2012; Jay Price

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.

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