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Israeli scientists make breakthrough in HIV research

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Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev discover similarities between virus and leukemia

Israeli scientists have made a breakthrough in researching HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev announced Tuesday.

Dr. Ran Taube of the department of microbiology, immunology and genetics at the university in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, said his team discovered similarities between HIV and leukemia.

The discovery will lead to a "revolutionary diagnosis and the key to the clinical solution that will prevent infection with HIV and will destroy the deadly virus," Dr. Taube was

In collaboration with Dr. Uri Rubio of Soroka University Medical Center, Taube said the research aims to stamp out AIDS and slow the progress of a rare mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL) that mostly occurs in children.

Although AIDS can be treated with anti-retroviral therapy medications, medical scientists have struggled to prevent the spread of the HIV virus, which continues to infect an every-growing number of individuals each year, Taube noted. One of the reasons for this is that no vaccine has been developed against HIV which could prevent future infection.

Taube added that the latent viral particles in HIV cannot be treated by anti-retrovirals, since they do not have an immune response and can continue to spread and infect new cells.

“Like what happens in the AIDS virus when it enters the chronic state, similar mechanisms of reproduction control the expression of genes responsibility for the development of hematopoetic stem cells," Taube was quoted by the Jerusalem Post as saying. "The study is based on the supposition that harming the mechanisms of expression and reproduction of the viral genome is responsible for the accumulation of the latent virus and the chronic condition of the disease.”

The researchers said they hope to uncover ways to activate the "silenced" virus, while simultaneously activating anti-viral suppressors that would then proceed to destroy the virus entirely.

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