HIV Cure: 5 Ongoing Major Researches to Lead Functional Cure and End False Hope

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By Ryan Inoyori | December 9, 2013 2:00 PM EST

Eradication of AIDS-causing HIV is now in early stages of research and development but all methods still need to be proven before human trials can begin. Here are the five angles with the most potential science is looking into to defeat HIV once and for all.

1.      HIV Sequestered in Human Cells
The main reason why antiretroviral drugs cannot cure HIV patients is due to the ability of the virus to reside and lie dormant inside infected cells. After sometime, the virus reactivates and gets released back to the serum.

A research team tried chemotherapy used in cancer to destroy HIV by using an antibody with a tiny dose of radioactive substance that will attach to HIV-infected cells only.

2.      Removing Proviral DNA
HIV inside a host cell can direct it to produce as many copies as it wants or be dormant for as long as it desires to. Antiretroviral drugs are helpless to stop embedded proviral DNA inside infected cells which makes HIV to replicate anytime needed.

Researchers engineered the viral enzyme called Cre into Tre which will do the reverse on HIV. It will clip out the viral genes allowing infected host cell to repair itself and survive. If successful, patients will need to undergo gene therapy to allow Tre to be produced in all infected cells.

3.      Preventing T-Cell Dysfunction
HIV primarily infects T-cells which are defensive cells of the immune system. Surrounding T-cells with lots of HIV antigen will cause it to panic and produce a chemical called sprout-2. Once they do this, T-cells become exhausted and lose function to fight infection.

Researchers are now thinking to inhibit sprout-2 to prevent T-cells from getting exhausted and panicked during a full-blown HIV antigen attack.

4.      Bone Marrow Transplant
Bone marrow transplant can be dangerous but recent breakthrough revealed a cure to Timothy Brown, the famous 'Berlin patient' cured from HIV/AIDS. His donor has a genetic flaw that makes T-cells resistance against HIV and capable of defeating the AIDS-causing virus.

Brown's bone marrow transplant was a success and his new T-cells with genetic flaw was able to clear out HIV particles throughout his body.

5.      Replicating CCR5 Delta
Timothy Brown's successful treatment and freedom from HIV led researchers to focus on replicating the genetic flaw called CCR5 delta 32 that make cells highly resistance against the virus.

It is a highly uncommon genetic mutation in a small population found in Northern Europe that scientists believe they can engineer. Using CCR5 engineering through drugs may create naturally resistance cells against HIV instead of looking for donors in Northern Europe to cure patients.

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