The Shock-and-Kill Approach
A new study that was published at Cell journal by a research team revealed that a combination four drugs can flush out HIV reservoirs inside host cells and induce vulnerability to the boosted immune system. However, the study was only tested on mice.
"It proves the principle that a combination of drugs that activate latent virus together with antibodies can induce remission -- at least in a slightly artificial HIV-infected mouse model," stated by Professor Sharon Lewin, head of the infectious unit at The Alfred Hospital according to The Conversation.
Normally, antiretroviral drugs cannot defeat HIV infection and can only slowdown its progress provided patients constantly following the regimen. Professor Lewin knows that using the principle is not new but some drugs used such as for cancer, could only wake up latent viral reservoirs -- destroy contrast to the new study of providing the kill method for infected cells.
In the study, researchers boosted the mice's immune system using broadly neutralising antibodies or bNAbs. The combination of HIV reservoir inducers and bNAbs used on humanised mice resulted more than 50 percent of the subjects keeping the virus under control.
Since the result was derived from humanised mice, certain factors are needed to be considered for humans such as toxicity and side effects, and locality wherein patients are unable to get treatment, that are vulnerable to other diseases such as tuberculosis.
Factors for Consideration
Combination of multiple drugs was used as regimen for HIV treatment and sometimes called Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy. In some cases, the regimen can reach up to 5 drugs at once depending on what strain of HIV the patient is dealing with.
David Cooper, Scientia Professor of Medicine and director of the Kirby Institute at University of New South Wales, expressed concern about certain factors about the study when applied on humans.
- Humanised mice on the study were treated on ART drugs within a day or two before being subjected to the new treatment.
- HIV-infected individuals in various territories do not take the regiment until diagnosed or found with latent stage of disease caused by opportunistic infection.
- Drug toxicity remains on the table and possible side effects once used for human consumption.
Regardless of these concerning factors, professors Cooper and Lewin found the boosted immune system from broadly neutralising antibodies essential and made an interesting point to prevent remission unlike with the drug use alone.