HIV's Love for Sugar Reveal Novel Ways to Kill It

By Peter R - 01 Jun '15 11:55AM
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The cure to HIV may lie not in confronting the virus but in starving it, a new experiment has revealed.

Efforts to understand HIV's survival mechanism showed researchers how the virus pillages immune cells' sugar resources to grow and replicate. When researchers found a way to close the supply of sugar to an infected cell, the virus starved to death. Having discovered the switch to control the supply of sugar reserves, researchers believe its sweet tooth could be HIV's Achilles Heel and could be exploited for treating the disease it causes.

"It's essential to find new ways to block HIV growth, because the virus is constantly mutating. A drug targeting HIV that works today may be less effective a few years down the road, because HIV can mutate itself to evade the drug," said Harry Taylor, the study's author.

The control switch that Taylor and his team comprising scientists from Northwestern University and Vanderbilt University discovered is called Phospholipase D1 or PLD1. Blocking this component in a CD4+ T cell denies sugar to the cell and to HIV, which exploits host's resources to replicate.

The latest approach could replace existing treatment techniques as it can be directed against infected cells, leaving healthy cells intact. It can also prevent HIV from persisting for life in humans.

Importantly, the approach could also be used to treat cancers which multiply by utilizing nutrient supply of healthy cells.

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