Peptide nasal spray may fight latent HIV
A nasal spray that contains a synthetic protein developed by researchers at Georgetown University may be effective in reducing the number of latent HIV-infected cells in the body, helping to reduce the HIV viral reservoir that can reseed the body in the absence of antiretroviral treatment, The Wall Street Journal reports. Results from a small human trial showed that the protein, called Peptide T, when administered via a nasal spray used daily, significantly reduced the level of HIV in monocytes, a type of white blood cell that can lie dormant after becoming infected with the virus. Anti-HIV drugs work only against cells with actively replicating virus, allowing latent cells to escape their effects. The peptide did not reduce overall blood-based viral loads in the 11 study patients; only HIV levels in latent monocytes were affected. Frank Ruscetti of the National Cancer Institute, a coauthor of the study, called for larger, placebo-controlled trials to determine if the nasal spray works in a larger cross-section of HIV-positive people.