Study sees virus spreading through brain, suggests creating nose spray to combat it
Researchers are developing a nasal spray to combat HIV after figuring out how the virus spreads through the brain. The team of Canadian researchers are working to create this new method of distributing antiretroviral therapy drugs so it can reach the brain faster
Their new study presents the first model to predict the growth and progression of HIV, allowing researchers to see how the disease spreads through the brain.
Now they hope their findings can lead to a more effective treatment, which will decrease an active infection in the brain.
The groundbreaking study was conducted by researchers at the University of Alberta as a joint effort between the mathematical and statistical science and neurology departments.
The scientists created a model that can track the progression and development of an HIV infection in the brain.
The researchers now believe they can provide an estimate of how the HIV-infected brain will develop and use this information to eliminate the virus from the brain.
Weston Roda, a PhD student at the university, said: 'The nature of the HIV virus allows it to travel across the blood-brain barrier in infected macrophage - or white blood cell - as early as two weeks after infection.
'Antiretroviral drugs, the therapy of choice for HIV, cannot enter the brain so easily.
'The more we understand and can target treatment toward viral reservoirs, the closer we get to developing total suppression strategies for HIV infection.
The researchers were able to create the model after examining data from patients who died five to 15 years after they were infected.
Experts then used this data in conjunction with the known biological processes of HIV.
Roda added: 'Our next steps are to understand other viral reservoirs, like the gut, and develop models similar to this one, as well as understand latently infected cell populations in the brain.
'With the antiretroviral therapy, infected cells can go into a latent stage. The idea is to determine the size of the latently infected population so that clinicians can develop treatment strategies.'