New research that focuses on the cells that host HIV has shown interesting details. Experts say that such research can help scientists ultimately find a cure to the disease.
New Research Sheds Light On Cells That Host HIV
Understanding the location and lifespan of the cells that produce HIV can help scientists slow down the growth of such cells in the body. According to researchers, antiretroviral drug therapy reduces the amount of virus in the blood cells of the infected person.
Interestingly, this decline happens in two phases, and the first phase shows a rapid decline in the virus count in the body. On the other hand, the second phase happens in a slow manner, and there is the gradual reduction of virus in the blood cells. This shows that there are possibly two separate cell populations that produce HIV in the body.
The rapid decline of the virus after the antiretroviral drug therapy shows that a majority of the virus is produced by one particular group of cells that lived for a short duration.
On the other hand, the slow decline in the virus in the second phase indicated that the second group of cells lived for many weeks, and it decayed slowly after the drug therapy.
As part of the study, the blood samples of infected people who were on antiretroviral drug treatment were analyzed for a long time. The HIV-infected cells were isolated on multiple occasions, which continued for the entire year.
Interestingly, only a few cells were found in the blood samples during the first phase of the decline in virus in the body. This gave the impression that those cells were residing in the spleen or the lymph nodes.
In the initial phase, the cells decayed with a half-life of two weeks which later increased to a half-life of 19 months. This shows that the cells continued to remain in the body even after the treatment, and only the growth slowed down to a large extent. If treatment is stopped, these cells can again spring back to action and increase their numbers in the body.
There are two ways of looking into the results of the study. One is that latent HIV remains in the body even after providing regular treatment. The other way to look at it is that the growth of HIV cells can be regulated with proper treatment.
Even though this is not a cure to the problem, it can at least keep the disease under control by regulating the growth of new cells and improving the decaying of existing infected cells.
For this reason, maintaining a strong immunity is important for patients who have HIV. If the immunity of the person goes down even by a small margin, this increases the chance for HIV cells to grow at a rapid pace in the body.
After a certain stage, it becomes difficult to control the growth of these cells if the immune system is badly damaged. On the other hand, by maintaining a strong immunity, it is possible to regulate the growth of such cells in the body. In this way, HIV patients can continue to lead a normal life without any hassles.
The drug therapy for HIV should not be stopped at any time as this can give an opportunity for latent HIV cells to grow at a rapid pace.
When the drug therapy is continued regularly for many years, the latent cells continue to decay at a steady pace, and the complications can be avoided to a large extent. In this way, patients can continue to lead an active lifestyle without worrying about the infection.