12 September 2012

New Scientific Discovery to Defeat AIDS

665782575-1_bell_vih_A team of researchers from Université de Sherbrooke has discovered the mechanisms that enables HIV – Human Immunodeficiency Virus – to stay hidden in “reservoir” cells of infected patients and also the mechanisms that enable its activation.

With these findings, the researchers wish to answer questions that have been challenging science and medicine for over twenty years. This discovery is a major progress in suggesting a control of the virus’s latency with medications by evacuating it from the body or by turning it definitely inactive.

The discovery was featured in the science magazine Retrovirology. The team led by Brendan Bell, Professor at the Microbiology Department of the Medicine and Health Science Faculty, in collaboration with professor Nancy Dumais, from the Biology Department of the Faculty of Sciences, explains that patients have to follow antiviral treatments during long periods to keep the latent infection quiet because the virus can stay hidden in reservoir cells where the treatment or the immunity system cannot reach it.

» Complete article in Retrovirology

The Sherbrooke research team has identified short DNA sequences that have to be present so that the virus can express itself. “If we successfully extract the virus from its hiding place, we could destroy it with antiviral medication and thus purge the reservoirs,” explains Brendan Bell, researcher at the Étienne Le-Bel Research Clinic of the Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke (CHUS — University Hospital Centre).

This scientific progress is crucial to understand how the virus’s expression is activated in order to develop stronger and more targeted approaches.

Source: Université de Sherbrooke
Photo credit: Robert Dumont



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