Four-class, five-drug regimen given to monkeys shows signs of producing long-term viral load reductions off treatment
An animal study (Shytaj) in which standard antiretroviral therapy (ART) was intensified by adding in drugs from other classes has shown signs that it may be possible, using antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) alone,
to produce a permanent reduction in the pool of chronically-infected
‘reservoir’ cells that are the source of the new HIV that reappears when ART is
stopped. Reducing the size of this reservoir is seen by many researchers as a
crucial component of a possible cure for HIV infection.
The finding, by a team at the Istituto Superiore di Sanità in Rome, was
unexpected: they had been testing whether a new monkey immunodeficiency virus
called SIVmac251 more accurately mimicked both the pathogenicity and ARV
susceptibility of human HIV than previously-used laboratory viruses. The
investigators hypothesise that the entry-inhibitor drug maraviroc (Celsentri), which blocks ongoing
cellular infection by HIV, may be an essential part of this more profound viral suppression.
Their study was part of a series of studies which, in 2011, produced
a prominent decline in the number of chronically-infected reservoir cells
by combining the five-drug ARV therapy with a
gold-containing anti-inflammatory drug called auranofin (Lewis).