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Two Studies Describe How HIV Destroys Cells, Leads To AIDS

“U.S. scientists have discovered the basic mechanisms that allow HIV to wipe out the body’s immune system and cause AIDS, which could lead to new approaches to treatment and research for a cure for the disease that affects 35 million people around the world,” Reuters reports (Steenhuysen, 12/19). “It turns out HIV, which infects only a small number of T cells at the start, destroys approximately 95 percent of immune cells through a process known as the bystander effect,” VOA News states, noting the virus “destroys the immune system by infecting a relatively few number of cells that create a fiery pathway that consumes nearby cells” (Berman, 12/19). “In the paper published in Science, the Gladstone team identified a mechanism that detects the damaged cells and triggers this cell death pathway,” according to Reuters. “In the paper published in Nature, the team explored the implications of blocking this cellular suicide with experiments using anti-inflammatory drugs that block the caspase-1 enzyme, including the Vertex drug VX-765,” which has been tested to treat epilepsy, the news agency notes (12/19).