Researchers have discovered that supplementing existing antiretroviral therapy with a natural compound can reduce the potency of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), thereby halting the progression of AIDS.
HIV-infected patients remain on antiretroviral therapy for life because the virus survives over the long-term in infected dormant cells. Interruption of current types of antiretroviral therapy results in a rebound of the virus and clinical progression to AIDS.
“Our results highlight an alternative approach to current anti-HIV strategies,” said lead researcher Susana Valente, associate professor at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in the US.
In the study published in the journal mBio, the researchers have detailed that unlike other antiretroviral therapies, a natural compound called Cortistatin A reduces residual levels of virus from the HIV-infected dormant cells, establishing a near-permanent state of latency and greatly diminishing the virus’ capacity for reactivation.
“Prior treatment with Cortistatin A significantly inhibits and delays viral rebound in the absence of any drug,” Valente noted.
“Our results suggest current antiretroviral regimens could be supplemented with a Tat inhibitor such as Cortistatin A to achieve a functional HIV-1 cure, reducing levels of the virus and preventing reactivation from latent reservoirs,” Valente explained.
For the study, the researchers isolated cells from nine HIV-infected participants being treated with antiretroviral drugs.
They found that treatment with the natural molecule reduced viral reactivation by an average of 92.3 percent.