February 7, 2011
"For the first time, an HIV-like infection has been cleared from an animal without the use of antiviral drugs," according to a study published Thursday in the journal Cell, New Scientist reports (Zukerman, 2/4). The research team, "led by Dr. Marc Pellegrini from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, showed that a cell signaling hormone called interleukin-7 (IL-7) reinvigorates the immune response to chronic viral infection, allowing the host to completely clear virus," according to a press release by the research institute. Pellegrini "said the finding could lead to a cure for chronic viral infections such as HIV, hepatitis B and C, and bacterial infections such as tuberculosis, which are significant economic and global health burdens" (2/4). However, he cautioned "it could still take 10 to 15 years before IL-7 could be approved for broadscale use to combat HIV," AAP/News.com.au reports (2/4).
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