Scientists Weaken HIV Infection in Immune Cells Using Synthetic Agents

PENNSYLVANIA: HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is notorious for hiding within certain types of cells, where it reproduces at a slowed rate and eventually gives rise to chronic inflammation, despite drug therapy.But researchers at Temple University School of Medicine’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Center for Substance Abuse Research (CSAR) recently discovered that synthetic anti-inflammatory substances distantly related to the active ingredient of marijuana may be able to take the punch out of HIV while inside one of its major hideouts — immune cells known as macrophages.

The breakthrough comes at a crucial time in the HIV/AIDS pandemic. “Powerful antiretroviral drug cocktails have allowed many HIV patients to live longer,” explained Servio H. Ramirez, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Temple University School of Medicine (TUSM), and first author on the study. But living longer with HIV means extended exposure to low levels of HIV replication and associated inflammation.

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