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HIV Reservoirs Knowledge Strengthens the Hope for an HIV Cure

Thirty years after the first description of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) the medical community shows increased hope in the development of a cure against Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
    May 24, 2011 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Despite effective antiretroviral therapy, HIV remains silent in some cells and body compartments explaining its life-long persistence. Each time antiretroviral therapy is stopped, viremia rebounds and the clock starts ticking again toward AIDS. Therefore, patients have to take their medications daily for the rest of their lives. This implies problems of compliance, toxicity, resistance and cost. For that reason, it is now mandatory to put research for an HIV cure on the front burner. The goal could be a "sterilizing cure", getting rid of HIV from the body, or -more rapidly achievable- a "functional cure". In this situation, patients would be able to control HIV replication by themselves without the need for continued antiretroviral therapy.

In their paper published this month (The Search for a Cure for Persistent HIV Reservoirs. AIDS Rev. 2011; 13: 63-6), Doctors Alain Lafeuillade (France) and Mario Stevenson (USA) first recap progress recently achieved in understanding the mechanisms of HIV persistence. Then, they define two main questions to be urgently addressed: the exact nature of the non-lymphocytic HIV reservoirs, and the threshold below which new strategies will have to drive the HIV reservoir to contain it. Finally, they draw what should be the priorities in terms of clinical trials for a cure and call for a higher commitment from funding organizations to win this race.

"There is definitely hope and innovation ahead in the search for a cure against HIV" told Alain Lafeuillade, who is also one of the organizers, together with Mario Stevenson, of the next December "HIV Persistence, Reservoirs and Eradication Strategies Workshop". When considering the preliminary program of this workshop (, it is evident that human experiments are boosted by the recent basic discoveries achieved in this field. More than a half-dozen mechanisms contributing to HIV latency are currently identified as possible therapeutic targets to tackle persistent HIV reservoirs. Building an effective task force between basic sciences, drug companies, clinical science and funding agencies could lead to an HIV cure within the next decade, or less if it is clearly the number one priority.


Alain Lafeuillade, MD, PhD
Informed Horizons
1860 Montreal Road
Tucker, GA USA
+1 770 573 3020

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