Scientists are in the midst of developing a new strategy for fighting HIV, and it involves sugar. The idea is to starve the virus to death by denying it access to nutrition, most notably sugar. Research scientists at Northwestern Medicine and Vanderbilt University believe this to be a weakness of the disease that can be used to fight it.
HIV requires nutrients and sugar in order to replicate and continue to grow within the human body, as the disease craves sugar whenever it attacks an immune cell. Thus, scientists believe that blocking off HIV’s access to sugar can stop the disease dead in its tracks.
Using an experimental compound, scientists have blocked the switch that allows HIV to suck cells dry of their nutrients and sugar. As a result, the virus became starved and was unable to replicate and grow. This was the first study that was successful in blocking the virus’ source of nutrition that allows it to grow.
Co-author of the study, Harry Taylor, said, “Perhaps this new approach, which slows the growth of the immune cells, could reduce the dangerous inflammation and thwart the life-long-persistence of HIV.”
Scientists believe that this method can also be applied to cancer, which also requires nutrients and sugar to grow and spread throughout the body.
More research will be needed before this strategy can be used to treat live HIV patients, but the new technique represents reason for hope in the fight against the disease. Some researchers believe this method can evolve into medication that’s utilized in an HIV cocktail used to treat the disease.
However, the virus has the ability to mutate at any time, which can render drugs and vaccines ineffective, so it’s far from inevitable that this will be the breakthrough those involved in HIV research are hoping it will be. But the strategy of depriving the virus of nutrients and sugar is a promising step in the right direction for HIV research.