HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is in most cases a lethal virus affecting millions of people. In the U.S. it was reported that there are more than a million people infected with it and this number is not likely to decrease.
A lot of research has been carried out to find ways to defeat this dangerous virus that ultimately leads to AIDS, causing the entire immune system to fail. However, the medication available on the market is only been able to prolong the patient’s life by suppressing the virus, but not to cure him or her from the virus completely.
You would have never thought that the virus can be exterminated by changing its diet. Nevertheless, a new study has found a new way to kill the virus by starving it to death. This is basically done by ceasing to feed it the nutrients and sugar the virus needs to survive.
The researchers at the Northwestern Medicine and Vanderbilt University determined that HIV has a weakness – an appetite for sugar. This can be used against it and provoke its downfall.
The authors of the study said that the virus displays sugar and nutrient cravings once it invades an immune cell. It is only able to replicate once the virus gets what it needs.
The researchers turned off the sources the virus needed and starved it to death. The result was that the virus could not replicate anymore in human cells in vitro.
Harry Taylor, who is an assistant professor at Medicine-Infectious Diseases referred to this wonderful discovery: “This compound can be the precursor for something that can be used in the future as part of a cocktail to treat HIV that improves on the effective medicines we have today.”
The researchers explained that the virus needs an active CD4+ T-cell (which is an immune cell). A component in that cell, called phopholipase D1 has to be activated to allow the virus to feed on the cell’s nutrients and sugar.
The scientists realized that blocking PLD1 with an experimental compound meant shutting down the nutrient and sugar pipeline. Thus the virus was starved and stopped replicating. It was interesting to note that the experimental compound did not affect healthy cells.
The discovery is extremely important because it might have applications to curing cancer as well, given the fact that cancer cells also have a sweet tooth.
Image Source: Gizmag