Monday, March 12, 2012

Prospects of HIV - treatment, prevention, challenges

One of the greatest hindrances in HIV treatment is the fact that these viruses remain in latent stages, making them hard to target by drugs. At the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, Dr. De Cock (director of the Center for Global Health at the CDC) stated the necessity of drugs to trigger viruses to come out of their latent state in order for treatments to be effective in killing the virus.
The article also talked about the difficulty of developing a HIV vaccine. In order for a vaccine to be effective, the body must recognize aspects of the vaccine and mount an immune system stimulating production of memory lymphocytes that would recognize the wild type virus. However, HIV is integrated into the host genome and avoid antibody response.
A new drug developed by Merck, Zolinza (vorinostat) can disrupt latent HIV infection and may aid in HIV treatment. However, it seems like we are far from curing HIV since only one provirus is needed to maintain infection.
I'm most interested in the development of HIV vaccine - it seems like the largest road block in developing a vaccine is the integration feature of HIV. If we use a integrase inhibitor in combination with vaccine, would that make the vaccine more effective? Wonder if anyone experimented with the use of prophylactic integrase inhibitor.

-Michelle Jin

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