Healthy cells are programmed to self-destruct, in a sense, when they become infected or diseased. Unfortunately HIV manipulates this internal self-destruct mode in the cells it infiltrates. A new pharmaceutical drug, Ciclopirox, shows promise in the advancement of HIV treatment.

This anti-fungal topical treatment came up with effective and hopeful results in recent studies. In HIV-infected cells, the drug attacks the mitochondria. By doing this, it inflicts a death blow to the infected cell, wiping out every trace of the HIV. In effect, it reactivates the cell’s self-destruct mode. Not only that, it prevents the HIV from replicating itself. In these two ways, this generally topical treatment proves very effective when dealing with HIV. Normally, Ciclopirox is administered to patients for treatment of skin and gynecological issues. However, in this new study, when used in a culture, HIV was cleared and did not reemerge once the drug was removed.

This is significant, since current forms of HIV treatment include combination drug therapies that inhibit HIV. While these therapies and treatments can help control HIV, they cannot eradicate the virus. If a patient should stop their treatment, HIV comes back at an astounding rate. With Ciclopirox, it is hoped that a means of prevention and perhaps a cure may finally be on the horizon.

Ciclopirox is already an FDA-approved drug. This means the process for using the cream in prevention of sexually transmitting HIV can be expedited. Other testing is already underway in hopes of further findings. The treatment is well tolerated, as healthy cells are unaffected by the drug.

Another promising treatment option is the drug Deferiprone, which is also showing promising results in the lab. Unlike the topical Ciclopirox, this drug can be taken internally, and as previous studies have already been published, it is hoped that this treatment, too, can become an option in the near future.