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HIV breakout prevented with minocycline – acne drug


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25 March 2010 Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post

hivRecently, scientists from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have discovered that an already in used medicine, that was treating acne since 1970s, targets immune cells in which HIV lies dormant and preventing their reactivation and replication.

Minocycline, in combination with a drug cocktail known as HAART (Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy) will likely improve the treatment regimens of HIV-infected patients. Scientists state that the major advantage of the new treatment is that the virus appears less able to develop drug resistance because the drug targets cellular pathways and not viral proteins as the standard treatment.

Because the major challenge when treating HIV patients is keeping the virus locked in a dormant state, in combination with HAART that reduces the virus active replication minocycline is another arm of defense against AIDS.

Unlike HAART, minocycline adjusts T cells, major immune system agents and targets of HIV infection. It also  reduces the ability of T cells to activate and proliferate, responsible to HIV production and progression toward full blown AIDS.

Taking HAART, day by day for life, can prevent people from becoming ill, the virus being kept at low levels but it will never be cured. If missing a dose, the virus can reactive itself and start replicating into the body.

In monkeys treated with minocycline, the virus load in the cerebrospinal fluid, the viral RNA in the brain and the severity of central nervous system disease were significantly decreased. The drug was also shown to affect T cell activation and proliferation and also to target very specific aspects of immune activation.

Since results obtained in tested monkeys, great expectations appeared regarding the human form of HVI virus. Resting immune cells from HIV infected humans that were taking HAART, were isolated and half of them treated with minocycline. Then, researchers counted how many virus particles were reactivated, finding completely undetectable levels in the treated cells versus detectable levels in the untreated cells. Molecular markers were used to discover that minocycline very selectively interrupts certain specific signaling pathways critical for T cell activation. However, the antibiotic doesn’t completely obliterate T cells or diminish their ability to respond to other infections or diseases, which is crucial for individuals with HIV. Although is not a cure, understanding minocyline’s effects on a T cell could help researchers finding more drugs and treatments that target T cell signaling pathways.

Source: HOPKINSMEDICINE

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