HIV cocktails have become known around the world for holding the deadly virus at bay for years. But actually eradicating the virus that causes AIDS has been thwarted by the virus' ability to hide out in dormant cells.
Now researchers have published a new study in The Lancet HIV journal, saying that a generic alcoholism drug called disulfiram had demonstrated the ability to wake up the virus and flush it out for destruction, potentially opening up a pathway that could be used to cure AIDS, which has killed some 34 million people around the globe.
The researchers tested the drug in 30 people over three days, tracking an increase in gene expression that indicated that they were successfully flushing the virus. Now they have to find a second drug that can be used to effectively target and kill the virus after its been kicked into activity.
"The dosage of disulfiram we used provided more of a tickle than a kick to the virus, but this could be enough. Even though the drug was only given for three days, we saw a clear increase in the virus in blood plasma, which was very encouraging," Sharon Lewin of the University of Melbourne told The Guardian.
Disulfiram is designed to make alcoholics vomit when drinking, but otherwise has no serious adverse events for patients to worry about.