Drug combination therapy for the elimination of HIV's latent reservoir, CD4+ memory stem cells.
- Targets HIV's latent reservoir in order to eliminate the pool of CD4+ memory stem cells which allow HIV to persist even with antiviral treatment.
- With HIV memory cells destroyed, antiviral treatment can eradicate HIV infection rather than just suppressing viral load.
There are approximately 2.3M individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS in the North America and Europe. Currently, HIV can be effectively managed with combination anti-retroviral therapies taken daily with high patient compliance, however even with these highly effective therapies the infection cannot be completely eliminated. Because it is unlikely that anti-retroviral therapies alone will provide a functional cure for HIV, new therapeutic approaches that completely eradicate the virus are needed.
Current state of the art treatment for HIV involves continuous treatment with anti-retrovirals for the remainder of the infected patient?s lifetime. This treatment reduces viral load to nearly undetectable levels, but cannot eradicate it. In addition, it requires expensive daily dosing. If doses are interrupted, the viral load can rebound to pretreatment levels. Recent research has shown that the inability of anti-retroviral therapy to eliminate the infection is likely due to a reservoir of latent HIV-infected CD4+ memory stem cells that hide within the body. Eradicating these stem cells within a patient may allow for complete elimination of the infection. Emory researchers have discovered that CD4+ memory stem cells can be differentiated using a Wnt/Î² catenin inhibitor. Differentiation of these cells depletes this reservoir of HIV infected cells that resist anti-retroviral treatment. When combined with anti-retroviral drugs, this therapy may allow for the complete eradication of HIV from an infected patient.
Proof of concept studies for this combination therapy are ongoing in non-human primate models of HIV infection.