January 4, 2005
An immune system protein called interleukin-7 can bring some HIV strains "out of hiding," and a combination of different types of interleukins and antiretroviral drugs might be able to "eradicate the virus," according to a study published in the Jan. 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, BBC News reports. Dr. Roger Pomerantz and colleagues from Thomas Jefferson University's Center for Human Virology and Biodefense tested the effect of different drugs and proteins to see what would stimulate latent HIV extracted from HIV-positive people who had been taking highly active antiretroviral therapy. IL-7 was "most effective" in drawing out the virus, particularly with respect to specific strains that do not respond as well to interleukin-2, according to BBC News. Therapy with IL-5, which is similar to IL-7, already has shown "some promise" in making HIV more "susceptible" to antiretroviral drug therapy because the drugs work best when HIV is actively replicating, BBC News reports. Pomerantz said that interleukin treatment appears to be safe, and he is hoping to receive approval to use it as a therapy in HIV-positive people within the next two years, according to BBC News. "The only way we are going to cure this disease is by getting rid of the latent virus," Pomerantz said, adding, "It's a little bit like treating cancer. You give induction treatment to stop the viral load and then use this approach to get rid of the residual disease, much like chemotherapy" (BBC News, 1/3).
Other Protein Study
In another study published in the Jan. 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, German scientists report that they can stop the replication of drug-resistant HIV strains by neutralizing a protein called deoxyhypusine synthase, AFP/Independent Online reports. "Contrary to conventional therapies, which block the virus's proteins, this new strategy is based on neutralizing a human protein which is important for the virus to multiply," Ilona Hauber and colleagues from the Heinrich Pette Institute and Nuremberg-Erlangen University said in a statement (AFP/Independent Online, 1/3).