Researchers may have discovered a way to use a particular cancer drug to help better identify, and potentially kill, cells infected with HIV, according to HealthDay.
Typically, some medications can eliminate any sign of HIV from the bloodstream, but the virus that causes AIDS never vanishes for good. Instead, it hides in the body, waiting to strike again.
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It’s too early to know if the approach will actually help patients get rid of the virus forever. The optimistic hopes of scientists, who are forever seeking an AIDS cure, could be snarled by side effects or some other medical hitch.
But the findings are a promising start, said study author Dr. David Margolis, a professor of medicine at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“We just wanted to show that we could get the virus to come out and show itself,” he said. “This doesn’t tell you that we have a cure for AIDS that everyone can take tomorrow. It begins us on a road to accomplish that goal.”
At issue is HIV’s ability to hide in the body. Scientists suspect that the virus “hijacks” certain kinds of immune cells — the ones that remember how to deal with certain kinds of germs — and lurk inside them. Thanks to this hijacking ability, medications and the immune system itself can’t find and kill the virus or prevent it from multiplying.