In Today’s Best Doctors blog post we would like to discuss an interesting research project that has shed light on the mechanisms used by HIV to “hide” from our immune system and prolong its impact on our body.
The study, which was recently published in the scientific journal Nature, was carried out by a team at University College London led by Greg Towers, the project’s main architect.
What Tower’s team has essentially discovered is the peculiar method that the AIDS virus uses to conceal itself from our body’s defences, which, being unable to detect this foreign presence, are incapable of getting rid of it.
The study shows that there are two specific molecules that help HIV to camouflage itself. It could be said that these act as a kind of “invisibility cloak” which, if eventually eliminated by the scientific community, would allow our body’s natural defences to attack the virus, just as they do with any other agents posing a threat to our health.
This information will allow researchers to expose the virus to different treatments that may prove to be more effective than current ones.
A drug crucial to the study
During the course of the investigation, trials were conducted with a drug based on cyclosporine -an immunosuppressant that is commonly prescribed to organ transplant recipients to prevent rejection. The problem with this drug is that it also affects the functioning of the immune system, hence its inadequacy for treating AIDS patients.
In order to solve this issue, Professor Towers and his team modified the drug so that it would have no effect on the immune system and would selectively attack only the two molecules that the HIV virus uses as a “barricade”.
Progress in autoimmune disease research
As regularly noted on our blog, significant progress has been recently made in research not only on viruses such as HIV, but on many autoimmune diseases, as is the case with Rohn syndrome, lupus and multiple sclerosis.
Thanks to these advances, which we can read about in the most prestigious scientific journals every week, medicine will practically reinvent itself in the next 30 years. This is a process that we, at Best Doctors, will be sharing with passion and responsibility.
Getting back to HIV research, we believe that this is an extremely interesting project in the fight against AIDS, insofar as scientists have found a weakness in a virus that has been affecting millions of people for decades and which has had a particularly devastating impact in developing countries.
We are looking forward to announcing good news about this study and others in the same line of research in the coming months, as access to up-to-date and reliable medical information is vital to our health.