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New therapeutic approach to fight HIV

Date:
May 17, 2016
Source:
KU Leuven
Summary:
Scientists are presenting a new therapeutic approach that may one day make it possible for HIV patients to stop their medication -- at least temporarily. The findings shed a completely new light on the search for a cure for the virus responsible for AIDS.
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Scientists from KU Leuven, Belgium, present a new therapeutic approach that may one day make it possible for HIV patients to stop their medication -- at least temporarily. The findings shed a completely new light on the search for a cure for the virus responsible for AIDS.

Existing antiviral inhibitors can suppress the replication of HIV, but they cannot fully remove it from the human body. As a result, HIV patients have to take inhibitors for the rest of their lives. HIV researchers worldwide are currently developing new methods to eliminate the virus.

HIV uses the cellular protein LEDGF as a kind of grappling-hook to attach itself to specific locations in our genetic material. Once its DNA is inside the cells of its human host, the virus can multiply and make the patient sick.

In 2010, the research team of KU Leuven Professor Zeger Debyser developed inhibitors -- called LEDGINs -- that block the 'grappling-hook'. As a result, the virus cannot attach itself to its preferred locations in our DNA.

Doctoral student Lenard Vranckx has now discovered that, when treated with LEDGINs, HIV settles elsewhere in our DNA, in locations where it cannot multiply. Lenard Vranckx explains: "We've shown that a treatment with LEDGINs not only inhibits the integration of [HIV], but also ensures that the virus doesn't multiply once the treatment is stopped."

"This discovery paves the way for new clinical studies with LEDGINs," Professor Debyser continues. "We don't know whether this approach will lead to a final cure for HIV, but even a scenario that allows patients to stop their medication for a while is an important step in the right direction."

However, the researchers remain cautious: "We don't want to give anyone false hope. Our discovery is based on cell cultures. The findings still need to be tested in mice and in clinical studies. That's why a potential treatment based on the discovery is still years in the future," says Professor Debyser. "But now, we already know the direction of our future research."


Story Source:

Materials provided by KU Leuven. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lenard S. Vranckx, Jonas Demeulemeester, Suha Saleh, Annegret Boll, Gerlinde Vansant, Rik Schrijvers, Caroline Weydert, Emilie Battivelli, Eric Verdin, Anna Cereseto, Frauke Christ, Rik Gijsbers, Zeger Debyser. LEDGIN-mediated Inhibition of Integrase–LEDGF/p75 Interaction Reduces Reactivation of Residual Latent HIV. EBioMedicine, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2016.04.039

Cite This Page:

KU Leuven. "New therapeutic approach to fight HIV." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 May 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160517101347.htm>.
KU Leuven. (2016, May 17). New therapeutic approach to fight HIV. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 29, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160517101347.htm
KU Leuven. "New therapeutic approach to fight HIV." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160517101347.htm (accessed May 29, 2017).

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