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Cancer treatment may be able to drain HIV from its hiding places.

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Published By:
Peeyush Ghalot
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Published On:
27-01-2022

The usual treatment for HIV, antiretroviral medication, can eradicate all traces of the virus from the blood, but a hidden reservoir of HIV remains in people who are on treatment. As a result, individuals will never be cured and need to take HIV medications for the rest of their lives. Researchers have yet to find a means to eradicate the virus in its latent form, but new research suggests that a well-known cancer medicine called pembrolizumab (Keytruda) may be able to help. Pembrolizumab, which revives the immune system and urges it to attack tumours, also has the power to drain HIV out of its hiding place in immune cells, according to researchers who studied 32 individuals who had both cancer and HIV.

(Image Courtesy: - BBC.com)

HIV targets the immune system by infection T cells white blood cells. The virus will spread wildly through the body without antiretroviral medicines, obliterating the immune system and eventually killing the patient. There are effective HIV medicines that can stop the virus from multiplying and allow the immune system to heal. The medicine, which the FDA first approved in 2014 to treat metastatic melanoma, binds to PD 1 and disabled it. This activates the immune system, causing tumour cells to be destroyed. It's also helped medicine become a blockbuster and one of the most successful cancer therapies. Patients get pembrolizumab infusion every three weeks for up to 105 weeks, depending on how well they tolerated the medicine. Because medications like pembrolizumab can have such high toxicity, researchers need to figure out if a dose will perform the job without causing severe side effects or death.

Reference: - https://www.statnews.com/2022/01/26/latent-hiv-pembrolizumab-keytruda/