Alcoholism Drug Found to Have HIV Combating Capabilitiesadmin
An unintended, and potentially life saving, side effect of disulfiram, a drug commonly perscribed to treat alcoholism, has been discovered. Commercially sold as Antabuse, the drug causes vomiting when alcohol is consumed, but researchers have also found the drug activates dormant HIV cells without causing any harmful side effects. This could help combat one of the strongest barriers to curing HIV – HIV latency.
HIV latency allows the virus to lay dormant and undetected in various hiding places around the body, safe from the effects of current antiretroviral drugs that can only treat HIV in the bloodstream, Science Alert reports. University of Melbourne researchers gave 30 HIV positive participants disulfiram at increading doses over a three day period. When given the highest dose, there was evidence that the dormant HIV was activated. But, unlike histone deacetylase, a class of drugs already identified as capable of activating dormant HIV, no harmful side effects were detected.
“This trial clearly demonstrates that disulfiram is not toxic and is safe to use, and could quite possibly be the game changer we need,” Professor Sharon Lewin said in a press release. “Even though the drug was only given for three days, we saw a clear increase in virus in plasma, which was very encouraging.”
“The next step is to get these cells to die,” First Author of the paper published in The Lancet HIV Dr. Julian Elliott said. “This is a very important step as we have demonstrated we can wake up the sleeping virus with a safe medicine that is easily taken orally once a day. Now we need to work out how to get rid of the infected cell…We have an enormous amount still to learn about how to ultimately eradicate this very smart virus.”