City scientists bring bad news for HIV cure

MUMBAI: Commonsense suggests that every sample of blood or fluid drawn from an HIV-positive person would be the same. But a group of researchers in the city has found otherwise.  

Read more:  City scientists bring bad news for HIV cure – The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/City-scientists-bring-bad-news-for-HIV-cure/articleshow/7464077.cms#ixzz1E75VlqBn

Scientists at the National Institute for Research in Reproductive Health (NIRRH) have found in the case of a patient that the genetic sequence of the  HIV virus in his blood sample was different from that in his sperm. The institute, located in Parel, operates under the Indian  Council of Medical Research (ICMR).  

The  NIRRH team, led by assistant director Dr Atmaram Bandivdekar, studied samples of HIV patients registered at the J J Hospital. “We have so far studied blood and semen samples taken from 10 men,” said Bandivdekar.  

Dr Alaka Deshpande, in charge of the hospital’s anti-retroviral centre, said the study was part of continuing research about HIV-discordant couples of whom only one partner has the virus.  

The findings shocked the doctors. The genetic sequence of the virus found in peripheral blood mononuclear cells was found to be different from that in the spermatozoa.  

The finding is significant because it underlines the virus’s instability. “HIV is so weak that it cannot replicate completely. Hence, its genetic sequence keeps changing as seen from the same patient’s blood and semen samples,” said Bandivdekar.  

He believes this continual change is the reason behind medicine’s failure to cure a person of HIV or its full-blown manifestation  AIDS. “If the genetic sequence keeps changing, how can we find one medicine to cure all?  

The findings are going to be published in the forthcoming issue of the  Journal of Medical Virology.  

But for both Bandivdekar and Deshpande, the study’s significance lies in that it settles a longstanding debate in the medical fraternity. “We can no longer say that sperms are 100% free of the virus,” said Deshpande (it is largely believed that HIV doesn’t affect sperms and is found only in seminal fluid).  

Bandivdekar said the finding would impact the current practice of allowing HIV-positive men to have their own children using infertility treatment. “While making a test-tube baby in a laboratory, the sperm of an HIV-positive man is washed. But we have to now study if the sperm-wash is indeed completely safe in not transmitting the virus to the embryo.”  

Deshpande, however, said that many European countries nowadays subjected the HIV-positive man to a regimen of drugs to bring down the viral load in his body. “Thereafter his sperm is washed and IVF is performed.’  

HIV is so weak that it cannot replicate completely. Hence, its genetic sequence keeps changing as seen from the same patient’s blood and semen samples. If the sequence keeps changing, how can we find one medicine to cure all?  

Read more:  City scientists bring bad news for HIV cure – The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/City-scientists-bring-bad-news-for-HIV-cure/articleshow/7464077.cms#ixzz1E75sRqtL



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