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Thread: Could HIV infection potentially be cured by 'starving' the virus to 'death', so to speak?

  1. #1 Could HIV infection potentially be cured by 'starving' the virus to 'death', so to speak? 
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    I've heard in a lot of my classes that HIV is nearly impossible to make a vaccine for because of how rapidly it mutates (among other reasons), but I've been wondering something for a while. It's my understanding that HIV can only infect macrophages and T-lymphocytes, more specifically CD4+ T-helper cells. And I've also heard that HIV is also uncurable, at least at present, because there is always a small percentage of the virus that remains dormant inside its host cell, making it unaffected by antiviral drugs.

    That got me thinking though, because I've also heard that HIV is a very weak and labile virus when outside a host cell. So would it be possible to cure an HIV infection by literally starving the virus to death, so to speak? That is, could you somehow completely wipe out all of the person's macrophages and T-cells (or just irradiate their bone marrow) so that the virus no longer has any cells to infect. Then the doctors could administer aggressive anti-retroviral therapy to completely eradicate the virus from the person's body, and finally, allow their immune system to either heal itself, or do a bone marrow transplant to restart it for them?

    Now admittedly, this form of treatment would be ridiculously impractical, as well as dangerous and expensive. But I don't really see any reason why it wouldn't work in theory. In fact, I think I remember reading that they've done something similar to this in a person, and they actually cured him if HIV. Does anyone see any reason why this shouldn't work?


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    Forum Professor Zwolver's Avatar
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    Well, honestly i have thought about this myself. But it's probably not possible to whipe out the entire immune system of a person and then making him recover from it and becoming healthy again.

    It would be very unpractical, because as a baby your immune system is growing, and is battling germs at highest efficiency (storing data for antibodies etc), when you get older, this efficiency declines (lack of thymus etc). Removing the immune system would make a person need to go trough the baby phase of immunity, and as an addition, you would have no antibodies from your mother to protect you. I would say, a very bad idea.

    As a prevention tool, you can take HIV inhibitors to make you practically immune to HIV (the virus could not enter the membrane, due to stiffening). But these drugs are just as hazardous as the treatment of HIV itself, so use is strongly disadvised.

    Best hope for the cure lies in an antigen/antibody block from where the virus binds to the membrane of the t-cells.


    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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  4. #3  
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    Maybe you can use a harmless version of HIV (like this one: HIV virus used to turn white blood cells into cancer serial killers | Geek.com) to genetically engineer a T-Cell to be immune to HIV virus (like this one: Genetic HIV Resistance Deciphered). So T-Cell will no longer get infected (?).
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    Currently, and until some medical break through, the best treatment for HIV is to use multi-drug therapy (mainly protease inhibitors), which knocks back the virus so thoroughly that the victims can almost live a normal life - apart from having to swallow so many damn pills.

    A great side effect of this is that the treated person is no longer infectious. So if he/she has sex, the disease is not passed on. In theory, since HIV is human only, if everyone with HIV got the full treatment, the entire disease would go extinct as soon as the last sufferer died of old age.

    In fact, this last year has been the first year since the disease was first discovered, when the total number of infected humans has actually dropped. This is due to that multi-drug therapy reducing the number of new cases, while a lot of the old cases dropped due to the death of infected people.

    Every year, the percentage of HIV sufferers who get the treatment is increasing.
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    I don't think a person taking protease inhibitors can no longer transmit HIV. I agree it will drastically lower the HIV count in blood, so it will in turn lower the odds of transmitting. But don't say there is no chance, as most diseases will find a way to transmit as long as there is a possibility.
    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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