The human immunodeficiency virus was found vulnerable to a strict restriction in nutrients and sugar that make it expand through the entire body.
According to a new study conducted by researchers at the Northwestern Medicine and Vanderbilt University, HIV growth can be stopped before it spreads in the body and causes irreparable damage.
What happens with the infectious virus once it penetrates an immune cell is that it needs to nurture in order to grow. The main sources of nurturing are sugar and nutrients found in the specific cell. When activated, HIV easily replicates and invades the entire body.
The research team found exactly the environment that prompts the growing and replicating of HIV. From there, it was easy to switch off the incentives that fuel further expansion.
Normally, HIV grows in active immune cells called CD4 +T-cell. When these immune cells are activated by the virus, they stack up on sugar and nutrients required by the cell to grow and allow the expansion of the virus at the same time. There is one switch in the cell that enables the process and that is phospholipase D1.
PLD1 was experimentally blocked, which resulted in a full cut off from piling up the sugar and nutrients that lead to the expansion of the HIV. At the same time, the experimental blocking compound was found to have an effect on the proliferation of such activated immune cells.
This is a major breakthrough as it brings to the front one effective means of ending the activation and worrying proliferation of the immune cells under the influence of HIV. Current medical therapies are targeting the growth of HIV, but do not have any effect on the persistence of the virus in the body, which eventually leads to significant organ damage.
The new research showed that in vitro replication of the virus in human cells was successfully stopped.
Harry Taylor from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine commented on the results of the research:
“It’s essential to find new ways to block HIV growth, because the virus is constantly mutating. A drug targeting HIV that works today may be less effective a few years down the road, because HIV can mutate itself to evade the drug.”
The exciting results may yield a variety of other applications on cells that function similarly to those infected by the HIV. For instance, cancer cells also feed on sugar and nutrients in the cells they invade in order to perpetuate inside the body.
The virus was unable to replicate in human cells in vitro.
The discovery may have applications in treating cancer, which also has an immense appetite for sugar and other nutrients in the cell, which it needs to grow and spread.
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