It was back in the year 1996 when antiretroviral treatments against HIV infection were first introduced. And ever since, scientists have been hard at work looking for an actual cure to the disease.
And now, fast forward to more than two decades later and we’ve come as far as to develop drugs that can allow people infected with HIV to live normal and healthy lives as if nothing happened, given that they keep taking the antiretroviral treatments prescribed to them. This is because if a patient stops taking the drugs, the little bits of dormant viruses that sleep in cells for years can come out and re-infect the patient all over again.
Some scientists, however, believe this is merely a temporary solution and still hope that we can create an actual cure that would expel all the viruses out of our bodies ever. This is because once the people who are taking this kind of treatment are starting to enter middle and old age, some side effects are starting to be observed by doctors. Such side effects include inflammation caused by the tiny amounts of HIV that is still present in the blood. This, according to doctors, is yet another reason as to why a viable cure needs to be developed.
Thankfully, researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's (NTNU) Center of Molecular Inflammation Research (CEMIR) have uncovered a new way to potentially flush out HIV: by activating the virus so it can start replicating and then making it visible to our immune system, which can provide a way for us to kill them.
"That is the current idea for a cure. We just need to activate cells that are hiding away so we can kill them, while we give medicine that protects cells from infection because there will be more virus produced,” Hany Zakaria Meås, a postdoc at CEMIR and a co-first author of the article, said.
However, while initial trials didn’t succeed, the research still holds promise since it provides insight into new mechanisms that can be used in the reversal of HIV latency.