A group of researchers from Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco, California has found a potential way to silence the deadly HIV through an anti-cancer drug. The drug, known as JQ1, is already in the early stages of clinical trials to patients, a recent press release said.

The research study made by the researchers at Gladstone Institutes were able to publish their study in “Molecular Journal,” an online collection of health-related findings. The JQ1 anti-cancer drug can reportedly reactivate latent HIV, and silence the virus for good.

Melanie Ott, a senior researcher at the Institute, stated in the press release that they conducted the research out of frustration.

She noted that their experiments were not yielding great results at that time that they discovered the anti-cancer drug.

“We already knew that the JQ1 drug works with a protein called BRD4. We started looking at various forms of the protein, just as our experiments were not resulting in good findings, and unexpectedly found that there is a short form that can silence HIV,” Ott noted.

The current situation

Currently, patients diagnosed with HIV are required to take multiple drugs each day for their entire lives. These medicines have side effects, such as mild dizziness and liver damage, the press release added.

There is also no other choice since when they stop taking medications, the HIV will spread inside their body.

Latent HIV, hiding inside cells for several years, is reportedly one of the hindrances to curing the disease. Scientists are in a continuous effort to reactivate and kill the latent form of the virus or discover something that will eternally stop its spread.

Fighting HIV

The anti-cancer drug targets the protein BRD4, so the researchers were able to uncover the processes that control latent HIV.

The drug removes the short form of BRD4, enabling the virus to replicate itself, Gladstone Institutes noted.

Aside from potentially treating the deadly virus, the study also provided a way for the anti-cancer drug to also treat other diseases, such as cancer, heart failure, and inflammation. One of the authors of the study, Ryan Conrad said that most people are not even aware that the BRD4’s short form exists.

He added that as the drug worked with this protein, they were able to uncover the role of BRD4 in HIV. Because of this, they learned new findings that took them back to how cells use their defense systems against other forms of viruses. Conrad is a post-doctoral scholar studying at Gladstone Institutes.