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Science Briefing

Closing in on hard-to-kill HIV

October 03, 2009|Times Staff and Wire Reports

Scientists in the U.S. moved closer to identifying a way to find drugs that would help rid patients of the hardest-to-reach pockets of HIV that now defy treatment.

Current anti-HIV drugs reduce the virus to undetectable levels without eradicating it. The virus survives by lying dormant in immune-system cells.

Scientists from Johns Hopkins University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, both in Maryland, tested 2,400 chemicals and found 17 that coaxed the virus out of hiding, kick-starting its normal process of replication. That would make the virus susceptible to drugs.

The best performer was a compound called 5HN found in the leaves, bark and roots of the black walnut tree.

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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