"“The reason why you can’t cure someone of HIV is because HIV hides in the body in reservoirs,” says Dr. Siliciano. “The best studied reservoir to date is that of resting memory cells. The drugs don’t touch this reservoir and the immune system doesn’t see it. So HIV is hiding in cells that are designed to live a long time in the body and we can’t, at this point, do anything about it.”
“But if we experimentally figure out ways to eradicate this reservoir,” she says, “we could potentially cure someone of HIV infection. And now we have many of the tools to study this reservoir, developed at our lab and other labs through funding from amfAR."
“If you understand the machinery of cells, then you can find an opportunity to create a drug that does what you want it to do,” says Dr. Karn. “In this case, we want to have a drug that can reactivate latent viruses. If you’ll forgive the analogy from World War I, it’s like getting somebody to stick their head out of the trench so you can get a shot at them. The virus is lurking around in the trenches and we want to be able to attack it. And attack it in very specific ways.”