A new study has repurposed an existing blood cancer drug, using it to eliminate dormant HIV-infected cells that can cause the infection to reactivate when suppressive antiretroviral treatment is interrupted. The drug could change the lives of people with HIV, doing away with the lifelong need to take medication as well as paving the way to a cure for the disease.
Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is highly effective at suppressing the replication of the HIV-1 virus in the body, reducing HIV in the blood to an undetectable level. However, when ART is stopped, it can cause latent infection, permanently hibernating in resting CD4+ T cells, to rebound or reactivate. This means that people living with HIV must take ART for the rest of their lives or risk a flare-up of the infection.