A novel study published in the March online and April 15 print editions of The Journal of Infectious Diseases ( JID), a peer-reviewed journal published by the University of Chicago Press, found minocycline, an old medication used for acne, effective in targeting "infected immune cells in which HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, lies dormant and prevents them from reactivating and replicating."
Janice Clements, PhD, the Mary Wallace Stanton Professor of Faculty Affairs, vice dean for faculty, and professor of molecular and comparative pathobiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, explained, "The powerful advantage to using minocycline is that the virus appears less able to develop drug resistance because minocycline targets cellular pathways not viral proteins."
"While HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy) is really effective in keeping down active replication, minocycline is another arm of defense against the virus," Clement continued, "The big challenge clinicians deal with ...when treating HIV patients is keeping the virus locked in a dormant state."
Gregory Szeto, a graduate student in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine working in the Retrovirus Laboratory at Hopkins, concluded, "This drug strikes a good balance and is ideal for HIV because it targets very specific aspects of immune activation. Minocycline reduces the capability of the virus to emerge from resting infected T cells, " preventing "the virus from escaping in the one in a million cells in which it lays dormant in a person on HAART, and since it prevents virus activation it should maintain the level of viral latency or even lower it. That's the goal: Sustaining a latent non-infectious state."
Clement agreed, "HIV requires T cell activation for efficient replication and reactivation of latent virus, so our new understanding about minocyline's effects on a T cell could help us to find even more drugs that target its signaling pathways."
Janice E. Clements, Ph.D., on her teams discovery that a safe, inexpensive antibiotic will improve on the current treatment regimens of HIV-infected patients, video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_ImNAEpOHY
"A Novel Use for an Old Drug: The Potential for Minocycline as Anti?HIV Adjuvant Therapy": http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/651278