New method could help find AIDS virus hideout

Scientists have published a study in Nature wherein they claim to have found a new way to pinpoint the hideout of the elusive AIDS virus – a development they claim could pave way for treatment of AIDS as well as HIV.

Researchers from France’s CNRS research institute reveal that their new method helps pinpoint the elusive white blood cells that are providing a hideout for the AIDS virus in people taking anti-HIV drugs and in the long term this method as well as the findings should lead to therapeutic strategies aiming to eliminate the latent virus completely.

As of now we do not have a cure for HIV and this effectively means that people who suffer from the disease have to continue taking the virus-suppressing drugs for life. The reason behind this is that a small group of immune system cells known as the CD4 T lymphocytes provide a haven for the virus, enabling it to re-emerge and spread if treatment is stopped – even after decades.

Authors of the latest study reveal they have found a protein called CD32a on the surface of virus-infected reservoir cells which is absent from healthy cells. This protein effectively acts as a marker that could help us root out the virus reservoir cells. In a person infected with HIV there are about 200 billion CD4 T cells and of these there is only one in a million that acts as virus reservoirs.

While scientists have determined the marker, they are not yet certain whether the protein CD32a plays a role in activating the HIV. If the protein does play a role, scientists say that it could be a very tempting target for drugs to block the stealthy process.

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