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Scientists succeed in destroying HIV-infected cells in major breakthrough

According to the latest UNAIDS Global HIV and AIDS Statistics, about 940,000 people succumbed to HIV-related illnesses in 2017. In the same year, from the 36 million people who were living with HIV, 21.7 million of them were under anti-retroviral therapy.

The HIV virus was first identified in the early 1980s. Amidst the continuous research, scientists are still unable to find cure. Not until the scientists at the Paris Institut Pasteur announced a major breakthrough in medicine that could totally destroy HIV viruses.

What is HIV?

HIV, stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a serious infection that damages the immune system that protects the body against harmful viruses and diseases. Once the HIV gets into the system, it can make a person really sick and infected that could lead to death. Since there is no cure yet, this virus stays in the body for lifetime.

The Anti-retrovirals as the Current HIV Treatment

HIV virus infected cell. Image by Seth Pincus, Elizabeth Fischer and Austin Athman, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health


The present medication helps the HIV-infected patients to stay healthy and live longer. It is important to stay under the medication to reduce the risk of the virus to spread throughout the body and to other people. Most patients who don’t get the treatment eventually die from HIV. The current HIV treatment is the antiretroviral, a drug discovered in the 1990s that blocks the virus.

It has saved the lives of millions of patients but it does not entirely kill the virus in the body. The virus stays in the infected cells identified as the CD4-T lymphocyte immune cells. These cells are the most active metabolic cells which the HIV virus targets in order to disseminate.

The Newest Breakthrough in HIV Treatment

In the latest research at the Paris’ Institut Pasteur, the HIV-infected cells were successfully eliminated which could further lead to more effective treatment. The metabolic activity inhibitors are discovered to help destroy the infected cells or so-called “reservoirs”.

The Medical Journal Cell Metabolism published the recent major HIV treatment breakthrough. “The anti-retroviral treatment currently used is designed to block HIV infection but it cannot eliminate the virus from the body,” the spokesperson from the Institut Pasteur said. “Thanks to metabolic activity inhibitors, the researchers have managed to destroy these infected cells, or ‘reservoirs’”, he confirmed.

The theory of the study states that if the viral load is sufficiently low, abolishing the cell that HIV hides in and withdraws energy from could prevent it from scattering in the body and possibly totally eliminating it altogether.

The next step of the research is to evaluate the potential of these metabolic inhibitors ‘in vivo’ to be tested on living organisms. The study funded by the Intitut Pasteur, Sidaction, and AmFAR (American Foundation for AIDS Research) concludes that this current research opens opportunities for new pathways to HIV reduction by removing the infected-cells.

When this research successfully develops into more substantial treatment to totally killing the HIV-infected cells in the body, HIV patients will live longer without requiring lifetime anti-retroviral drug treatment.

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Melodie Michelle

Tuesday 12th of February 2019


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