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U researchers find two FDA-approved drugs that may fight HIV

In a recent study, University of Minnesota researchers discovered that a combination of two cancer drugs may be an effective treatment for HIV.

The drugs—decitabine and gemcitabine—are both already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and now used in cancer therapy. When tested in mice, the two drugs together caused the HIV virus to mutate itself to death—an outcome researchers call “lethal mutagenesis.”

This is the first time the approach has been used to attack HIV without causing toxic side effects.

The study, published in the August Journal of Virology, is a collaboration between molecular virologists Louis Mansky, Ph.D., and Christine Clouser, Ph.D., of the Institute for Molecular Virology and School of Dentistry, as well as medicinal chemist Steven Patterson, Ph.D., from the Center for Drug Design.

Because the drugs are already FDA approved, the researchers believe that if their research is effective in large animal models, it will be easier to develop the drugs for human use.

“The findings provide hope that such an approach will someday help the 33 million people worldwide who currently live with HIV,” Mansky says.

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