Friday, August 12, 2005

Baby steps

stethoscopeThe standard treatment for HIV is retrovirals, which help block additional replication of the virus but do nothing about the cells that are already infected but lying dormant. Thus, it's a lifetime regimen, and scientists are eager to find ways to target the dormant infected cells (and thence get rid of the infection for good). Apparently they've found the first drug that could be effective in this way:
The study, led by Dr. David Margolis at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, tested the ability of valproic acid to reduce the number of infected dormant cells. Four patients on standard therapy were given the pills to take twice daily for three months. The size of this pool of infected dormant cells decreased by 75 percent in three out of the four patients, the study found.
Not a cure, but a proof of principle, and amazingly quick effects (compared to the years of retrovirals). Check out Eliot's further discussions of this drug, which is used as an anticonvulsant and antidepressant -- there may already be a host of fortuitous "test subjects" out there who could be re-examined in light of the new findings.

(via Follow Me Here)

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