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A radical new therapy proposed by a team of Canadian and American researchers may provide a new way to fight HIV-AIDS. Through a combination of targeted chemotherapy and current antiretroviral treatments, it may be possible to destroy the virus wherever it is in the body, both circulating in the blood and hiding in immune system cells.
"For 15 years we haven't had a clue," said Dr Rafick-Pierre Sekaly of the University of Montreal to the Canwest News Service. "But now, we do. Now there's a whole new perspective of how to get rid of HIV."
HIV treatments have been limited in effectiveness because the virus hides in immune system cells, meaning it can still be in the body even after treatments have rendered it undetectable by HIV tests.
The hidden HIV is not dividing, but resting dormant, so it is not touched by the antiretroviral drugs. Sekalay's team has identified which types of cells it hides in, allowing for an approach that selectively kills those cells through chemotherapy.
The researchers caution that these new therapeutic options will require many more years of research before they are validated and could actually be available to patients.
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