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Foot Cream Kills HIV by Tricking Cells to Commit Suicide

Ciclopirox is currently approved by the FDA as a topical antifungal cream (Credit: Fougera) A common drug that dermatologists turn to treat nail fungus appears to come with a not-so-tiny side effect: eradicating HIV.

In a study performed at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, not only does the drug Ciclopirox completely eradicate infectious HIV from cell cultures, but unlike today's most cutting-edge antiviral treatments, the virus doesn't bounce back when the drug is withheld. This means it may not require a lifetime of use to keep HIV at bay.

The same group of researchers had previously shown that Ciclopirox -- approved by the FDA and Europe's EMA as safe for human use to treat foot fungus -- inhibits the expression of HIV genes in culture. Now they have found that it also blocks the essential function of the mitochondria, which results in the reactivation of the cell's suicide pathway, all while sparing the healthy cells.

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