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Straight, No Chaser: HIV's Sweet Tooth May Reveal the Ultimate Key to Its Defeat

By Jeffrey Sterling, MD July 24, 2019


There have been very impressive advances in the understanding and treatment of HIV that have led to impressive lengthening of lifespans and the quality of life in those infected. Researchers from Northwestern University and Vanderbilt University appear to have come across yet another such discovery.


In simple terms, HIV appears to be similar to a voracious monster with a large sweet tooth. After the virus invades an activated immune cell (CD4+, T cell), it hijacks sugar and nutrients from the cell to replicate and fuel its wild growth throughout the body. It is the fact that HIV is attacking and damaging our immune cells that leads to the devastating effects seen in HIV.
The new initiative appears to be based on an ability to turn off the switch within our immune systems that controls the sugar and nutrient pipeline. In effect, this starves HIV to death. The inability to replicate throughout the body renders the infection less powerful.
Prior drugs that have attempted to cut off HIV’s nutrient supply have had the undesirable effects of killing healthy cells, thus producing undesirable side effects. That does not appear to be the case in this recent study, the details of which can be read in the May 28 issue of PLOS Pathogens.
If these finding remain true in human studies, this will have proven to be an amazing accomplishment. The scientists involved in the study are also looking to apply this research to cancer treatment, based on cancer cells operating under similar energy demands.
Stay tuned for more information as news develops.

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