Hunt for HIV cure turns to cancer drugs

The outstanding progress in boosting the immune system to treat cancer may help unlock a cure for HIV, according to scientists meeting in Paris.

The body's normal defences struggle to clear the body of HIV and cancer.

But the rapidly emerging field of immunotherapy has seen some patients with terminal cancer go into complete remission.

The hope is that a similar approach could clear someone of HIV, although some experts have urged caution.

Nobel Prize winner and co-discoverer of HIV, Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, told the BBC: "One of the mechanisms why [latently infected cells] persist is the fact they are proliferating very similar to tumour cells.

Prof Lewin has starting doing the research in the laboratory and thinks immunotherapy drugs could reinvigorate an immune system that has become tired of fighting HIV.

She said there was emerging evidence that the drugs also activated HIV lying dormant inside immune cells.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the area is "very hot" right now in cancer.

But he cautioned: "We have to be careful we don't assume that things that work in cancer are going to work in HIV.

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