This finding, also announced by the Pasteur Institute, could revolutionize the treatment of HIV, as so far, patients have to take antiretroviral drugs that do not kill the accumulators (latent viruses) found in immune cells.
"Our job is to identify infected cells so that we can focus better on them in order to eliminate them from the body", said study coordinator, Spanish Asier Saez-Cirion, Institute Pasteur, in a statement broadcast on RTL radio.
The team of researchers was able to identify the properties of CD4 T lymphocytes, immune cells that HIV activates and uses to produce copies of themselves.
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The treatments that exist – antiretroviral – prevent HIV from doing it and multiplying, but do not cure or interrupt the virus, but leave it in a calm state.
Now researchers have found that the virus primarily infects cells with strong metabolic activity – such as CD4 – in which glucose consumption plays a dominant role. Understanding this mechanism will open the door to eliminate infected cells, experts say.
What researchers have achieved is blocking the infection due to metabolic activity inhibitors that have already been investigated against cancer in experiments carried out ec vivo, or performed in or on the biological tissues of the organism in the artificial environment.
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The researchers said that the finding was the first promising step, although they clarified that it was still necessary for this technique to be applied in patients.