Skip to main content

New U of M study points to 'curative strategies' for HIV

The research could be a game-changer for HIV treatments.

An announcement from the University of Minnesota Medical School could signal a potential breakthrough in HIV research – and possibly "curative strategies" as well.

Published in the medical science journal Nature Medicine, the U of M study says that current antiretroviral drugs – which are used to stop HIV from spreading in infected patients – aren't strong enough to fully penetrate the areas where most HIV-infected cells live.

Those cells are in the body's lymphoid tissues, such as lymph nodes, the spleen, and the gastrointestinal tract. 

The ability of antiretrovirals to reach those lymphoid tissues is crucial, because they contain "nearly 99 percent of HIV-infected cells," according to a U of M news release.

The potentially frightening thing about this is that these cells – which the study refers to as HIV "reservoirs" – carry the potential for "reactivation and reigniting the (HIV) infection."

So what happens next?

Researchers, the news release says, "need to understand why the current treatments do not achieve adequate levels in lymphoid tissue reservoirs to completely shut down virus production."

In other words, the scientists behind the study hope their findings lead to better drugs – specifically drugs that can reach the reservoirs at strong-enough concentrations to attack the HIV there. 

"This knowledge could jump-start the development of more effective treatments that could lead us closer to a cure for this disease," the release says.

But is it really a breakthrough?

It's no secret that "clickbait" headlines have eroded public confidence in news articles that announce "breakthroughs" promising potential "cures" to AIDS, cancer, and other diseases.

So what about the U of M's announcement? Will it have some huge, meaningful impact on HIV research and the medical science community in general?

"That is really hard to predict," Dr. Timothy Schacker, a lead researcher in the study and a U of M professor, admitted to GoMN. 

But, he added, "the idea that drug delivery may be a barrier to (a) cure is new," and the possibility that "better drugs might get us closer (to a cure) is novel and important."

In other words, quite possibly – but we can only wait and see. 

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-06-26 at 10.02.59 AM

North Dakota's only abortion clinic relocating to Minnesota

A GoFundMe set up to help the clinic make the move to Minnesota has surpassed its $500,000 goal.

Screen Shot 2022-06-26 at 12.37.03 PM

Deadly vehicle fire on Interstate 94 west of Fargo

The victim's age and name have not been released.

flickr - gov tim walz - mn senate dfl

Overturning Roe v. Wade won't do a 'damn thing' to prevent abortions, Walz says

Gov. Tim Walz signed an executive order Saturday meant to protect abortion access in the state and people who come from out of state seeking one.

ambulance

Man crossing Highway 13 in Burnsville fatally struck by driver

The victim is a 31-year-old man from Prior Lake.

Screen Shot 2022-06-26 at 7.50.33 AM

4 shot near Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis

The shooting happened around 11 p.m. Saturday.

Screen Shot 2022-06-25 at 7.55.28 PM

Charges: Cop feared for his life during struggle for gun with suspect

Allen Denzel Oliver-Hall has been charged with second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon.

Burnsville, Minnesota - May 2019 (2)

Shootout near Erik's Bike Shop, Lunds & Byerlys in Burnsville

Police say youths were shooting at each other on Saturday afternoon.

minnesota river

Fishermen find body floating in Minnesota River in Shakopee

The body was found upstream from Minnesota River Heritage Park.

Related

Drug developed at U of M 'incredibly potent' in killing pancreatic cancer

Tumors that attack the pancreas are among the most lethal cancers. But a drug developed at the University of Minnesota has been used to kill those tumors in mice and could be tested on humans soon. The drug is made from a plant used in traditional Chinese medicine called the Thunder God Vine.

U of M researchers make breakthrough in paralysis treatment

They've been able to restore some function in patients with devastating spinal cord injuries.

Who pays for sex in MN? U of M study brings answers

The research will help the fight against human trafficking.

Researchers at the U of M reversed Alzheimer's in mice

The study is a major breakthrough in research of the disease, and may lead to new treatments.