Scientists who are seeking to find a cure for AIDS virus has made a discovery with a drug that is used to treat alcoholism. You guessed it right; it is the age old Disulfiram discovered long back in the 1920’s which has come to the rescue of HIV-positive patients.
One of the biggest hurdles in eliminating the HIV from the body is the virus becomes dormant and hides in the body after the HIV patient starts taking Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) AIDS drugs. This dormant or inactive virus can wake up and become active anytime.HIV latency is one of the biggest stumbling blocks in curing any HIV patients.
This is what makes the latest discovery exciting. People who take ART are saving their lives, but they are not eliminating the virus that can become dormant. Antabuse, a drug to treat alcoholism when given along with the ART drugs draws out these dormant HIV from the cells, and since the patients are already taking the ART, which suppresses them, there is no ill effect on the body.
The ground making discovery was made by Professor Sharon Lewin and his team from at Australia’s the University of Melbourne.The researchers administered 30 patients who were taking the ART treatment that repressed the HIV with Antabuse and saw the effects of the drug immediately. There was a significant increase in the HIV in the plasma.
What the researchers need to figure out is how to kill these HIV viruses once it has been drawn from their dormant state.
Since its discovery in 1980’s HIV/AIDS has taken the lives of 34 million people as per the data released by United Nations HIV program. HIV can be held in check with the help of ART and till the end of 2014 more than 36.9 million people are taking this drug and living normal lives.