This finding, also announced by the Pasteur Institute, could revolutionize the treatment of HIV because patients have to date taken antiretroviral drugs that do not kill the reservoirs (latent viruses) administered to the immune cells.
"Our job is to identify the infected cells so we can better focus on them for the purpose of removing them from the organism", said the coordinator of the study, the Spanish Asier Sáez-Cirión, from the Pasteur Institute, in a statement broadcast on RTL radio.
The research team was able to identify the characteristics of CD4 T lymphocytes, the immune cells that HIV activates and uses to produce copies of themselves.
Related Note: Sex education is the only way to stop HIV, according to NGO's
The treatments available – antiretroviral – prevent HIV from doing this and multiplying, but they do not heal, that is, they do not stop the virus, but leave it in a sleeping state.
Now scientists discovered that the virus preferably infects cells with strong metabolic activity – like CD4 – where the consumption of glucose plays an overall role. Understanding this mechanism will open a door to eliminate infected cells, experts say.
What the researchers achieve is to block the infection thanks to inhibitors of metabolic activity that have already been investigated against cancer in ex vivo experiments, that is, performed in or on biological tissues of an organism in an artificial environment.
Related note: 71% of those diagnosed with HIV in Paraguay were men
The researchers said that the finding is a promising first step, although they stated that it is still necessary for this technique to be used for patients.