A proposed treatment of AIDS, taking into account the phenomenon of
viral latency, is now receiving serious attention. To understand the
approach, a grouse shooting analogy may help.
The grouse shooting season is now upon us, and the woods and copses
echo not only gun-fire, but the pad and thwak of the beaters. To rid
land of grouse requires a two-fold approach (i) beaters to get the birds
to fly up, and (ii) guns and good shooters. The shooters alone will
just be able to shoot the occasional grouse which is so stupid as to
expose itself. The beaters alone will just cause the grouse to spread to
other sites. The combination is lethal.
In the AIDS context, the guns are drugs such as AZT and (recently)
the complex of drugs known as HAART. These hit AIDS viruses "on the
wing", but are useless against latent virus which hides usually in DNA
form seamlessly integrated into the DNA of its host cell. We need drugs
to simulate the beaters. In 1991 it was suggested that cytokines such as
TNF-alpha might fill this role. Recently some major laboratories have
taken this up. For further details see the references below.
Forsdyke, D. R. (1991). Programmed activation of T-lymphocytes. A
theoretical basis for short term treatment of AIDS with Azidothymidine.
Medical Hypothesis 34, 24-27.
Chun et al., (1998). Induction of HIV-1 replication in latently infected
CD4 T cells using a combination of cytokines. J. Exp. Med. 188, 83-91.
Ho, D. D. (1998). Towards HIV eradication or remission. Science 280,
Sincerely, Donald Forsdyke
Discussion Leader. Bionet.immunology