AUG 23, 2015 5:01 PM PDT

Similarities between Leukemia and AIDS

WRITTEN BY: Ilene Schneider
Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Beersheva, Israel, say that they have “made a significant breakthrough, discovering similarities between leukemia and HIV.” Such similarities might hold the key to developing a clinical solution to prevent and destroy the virus, according to a press release.
Research on viral genome could lead to clinical solution for leukemia and HIV.
“Similar to what happens with the HIV virus when it enters a chronic state, reproduction mechanisms control the expression of the genes responsible for hematopoietic STEM cells – the first cells that develop,” says Dr. Ran Taube of BGU’s Shraga Segal Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

As Dr. Taube explains, “This research is based on the assumption that damage to the mechanisms of expression and reproduction of the viral genome is responsible for the accumulation of the latent HIV virus and leads to the chronic disease condition.”
 
In collaboration with Dr. Uri Rubio of Soroka University Medical Center, Dr. Taube’s team is seeking innovative ways to “wake up” the virus from its silent active state, while at the same time applying anti-retrovirals to essentially eradicate the virus completely. As Dr. Taube says, “Until now, the medical community researchers had very limited information on the existence of a connection between AIDS, caused by the HIV virus, and a rare blood cancer, known as Mixed Lineage Leukemia (MLL). MLL, found mostly in children, hinders blood system cell development.
 
The research being conducted by Dr. Taube’s group detects the mechanisms of action that are similar to the development of the blood cancer MLL. The group’s study was funded in part by the American Leukemia Research Foundation. In addition to studying transcription regulation that drives MLL, Dr. Taube’s laboratory is involved in the study of the regulation of HIV transcription, host-viral interactions that promote HIV latency and the development of protein-based anti-cancer drugs using mammalian cell display.
 
While, in recent years, AIDS has been treated effectively with anti-retroviral medications, these drugs do not prevent infections. Thus, their efficacy is limited. Additionally, researchers have determined that a small number of inactive, latent viral particles found in the body are not affected by the anti-retroviral drugs. Such viruses, which are hidden in the body, can effectively avoid the immune response. At any moment they can multiply and infect new cells.

There is still no HIV vaccine, and no treatment has been found to prevent the spread of the HIV virus. The number of people who are infected with the HIV virus continues to grow every year.

 
About the Author
  • Ilene Schneider is the owner of Schneider the Writer, a firm that provides communications for health care, high technology and service enterprises. Her specialties include public relations, media relations, advertising, journalistic writing, editing, grant writing and corporate creativity consulting services. Prior to starting her own business in 1985, Ilene was editor of the Cleveland edition of TV Guide, associate editor of School Product News (Penton Publishing) and senior public relations representative at Beckman Instruments, Inc. She was profiled in a book, How to Open and Operate a Home-Based Writing Business and listed in Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in Advertising and Who's Who in Media and Communications. She was the recipient of the Women in Communications, Inc. Clarion Award in advertising. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Ilene and her family have lived in Irvine, California, since 1978.
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