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HIV Treatment Breakthrough Discovered by Israeli Scientists

A new treatment discovered at the Hebrew University's Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences and the Institute of Chemistry may have the ability to destroy HIV-infected human cells without damaging healthy ones.

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By Denise Reynolds

As HIV transmission is reported to be “out of control” among gay men in France, Israeli researchers offer hope against the spread of the AIDS virus. A new treatment discovered at the Hebrew University’s Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences and the Institute of Chemistry may have the ability to destroy HIV-infected human cells without damaging healthy ones.

Treatment Causes Infected Cells to Self-Destruct

Currently, there is no cure for AIDS, however current treatments have been developed to delay the development of the disease and make it more manageable. The new treatment fights HIV by causing infected cells to “self-destruct”, says Dr. Abraham Loyter who published his findings in the British journal AIDS Research and Therapy.

When the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) enters a cell, its DNA replicates which manufactures new virus that infects surrounding cells. The peptide treatment discovered by Dr. Loyter and his colleagues will interfere with this genetic replication by transmitting a signal to kill the infected cell. In human cell laboratory cultures, the infected cells disappeared in two weeks and did not reappear up to two weeks later.

The treatment developed by the team was patented earlier this year and they plan to start animal and human trials soon.

It is estimated that about 33 million people worldwide are carriers of HIV with the majority of those affected living in Sub-Saharan Africa. In the US, one million are estimated to be living with the virus while another half million have died. The latest figures from France, reported in the Lancet Infectious Disease journal, has found that 7,000 new cases of HIV were diagnosed in 2008 in France, nearly half of those in homosexual men.