“Kick & Kill” – Cancer Drug to Kick and Wake up the Dormant HIV to Kill It

By: | February 4th, 2022

The HIV virus (yellow) infecting a human cell.( Image courtesy: National Cancer Institute/Unsplash)

HIV needs no introduction. The virus is notorious to hide in a state of hibernation inside our immune system. This has been a major reason that HIV does not have an approved treatment in its 41-year history.

The virus never gets eradicated entirely even when treatments are followed diligently. It inserts its genetic material into the cell’s own to escape detection.

Now, a study suggests that dormant HIV from immune cells can be flushed out of its hiding places in the body using an approved cancer drug.

kick and kill: Cancer Drug may Flush Out Dormant HIV to kill it

The study was conducted by the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Melbourne, Australia. The study has found that Pembrolizumab, an immunotherapy drug for cancer might also be able to reverse HIV latency, flushing out the latent virus. Pembrolizumab works by reactivating worn-out immune cells.

This finding paves the way for new treatment

Although the trial was conducted on a very small group featuring 32 patients. But it led to successful research with exciting results.

Researchers still have a long road ahead; more studies will be needed to evaluate dosage and frequency of treatment. The research team also needs to evaluate whether the drug can be used safely on HIV patients who do not have cancer.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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