Chemicals wake up dormant HIV

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Compounds that boost the 'noise' in genetic activity of HIV can reactivate the latent virus. Such drugs could make it easier to stamp out quiescent HIV infections.

In patients, HIV can hide from antiretroviral drugs in a latent state for years. Changes in HIV gene expression can, when the expression reaches a certain threshold, lead to the activation of dormant HIV, making the virus a target for drugs. So, Leor Weinberger from the University of California in San Francisco and his team screened a library of small molecules and found more than 80 that modulate HIV gene-expression fluctuations. These “noise enhancers”, in combination with existing reactivation compounds, reawakened latent HIV-infected cells better than the existing drugs alone, and were less toxic to uninfected cells.

Chemicals that modulate this genetic noise could be used in combination with other antiviral drugs to reawaken and kill HIV and other viruses that enter a latent state.

Science (2014)

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