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Eliminating HIV reservoirs might damage cells?

Mar 25, 2006

Dear Dr. Wohl: Once you said in this forum that the researcher (I cant remember his name) who did the study on valproic acid is working at your university. Imagine his theory worked and he could figure something to force the virus to leave the cells in which it remains latent...What would happen to those cells? Would they die or be destroyed? I ask you this because the brain is one of the sanctuaries of HIV. I would like to keep my head filled with my brain. I need it even though I dont use it too much. Thank you! John.

Response from Dr. Wohl

Dear John,

I agree with your affection for your gray cells. As Woody Allen said, "My brain?! That is my second favorite organ."

David Margolis is trying to use valproic acid to inhibit cellular processes that keep HIV latent (or inactive) within certain T-cells. Were this to be effective, the idea is that then HIV meds could have an opportunity, currently deprived of them by the resting state of these cells, to come along a stop the virus from replicating.

These resting cells are mostly in lymph tissue. Whether there are resting cells in the brain that could be affected by valproic acid and, if so, can that in a way lead to harm, I do not know and will ask my colleague and get back to you. However, as the idea is not that these cells be destroyed but that virus be flushed out so potent HIV meds can have at them makes me think not.



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