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As medical science takes small steps toward finding a definitive cure for HIV on one hand, there is also a new study that aims at finding way to prevent the HIV virus from spreading in the human body.
According to the researchers from Vanderbilt University and Northwestern Medicine’s HIV Translational Research Center, there is a method that can control the virus’ access to nutrients and sugar.
Why is this important? Because once the HIV virus infects the human immune system, it needs something to go on, so it turns its cells to sugar and nutrients, which supply its growth.
During the study’s experiment, researchers used an experimental compound that was blocking the virus’ pathway to resources. Without a lifeline, the virus would starve to death and reproduction inside the body would cease.
Scientists concluded that the compound they used was able to also stunt the growth of unusually activated immune cells. This phenomenon is what scientists believe to be the reason for the life-long complications that HIV can cause; inflammation and premature organ damage are just some of the consequences.
Leading study author Harry Taylor from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine explained in his report that the experimental drug they are working with could very well be the predecessor of a future cure for HIV. Scientists involved in the study believe this to be a key ingredient in the cocktail that keeps improving the chances of treating HIV effectively.
This is a most difficult task, because researchers need to continuously look for new ways to block HIV growth, as the virus is constantly mutating in order to evade treatment. Taylor explained that drugs that target HIV now and do so efficiently might not be as effective a few years down the road.
However, this new approach in preventing and slowing down HIV cell reproduction is easier on the immune system. Tylor stated that this method of stunting the abnormal growth of the immune cells could cut down the excessive inflammation and cancel the life-long effects of HIV.
As presented in a press release by Northwestern University, Taylor got the idea of cutting the virus’ supply of sugar and nutrients during his time spent working with colleagues at Vanderbilt University.
During lab experiments, the team came up with a compound that showed signs of fighting growth of breast cancer cells. Next step was to try the compound for the purpose of blocking HIV’s ability of using its host cell’s nutrient nourishments.
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