The research was published Thursday by Cell Metabolism. Currently, patients with HIV should take antiretroviral drugs that can not eradicate the reservoirs of this disease that lodge in the cells of the immune system.
"Our job is to identify the infected cells so that we can focus on them better, with the aim of eliminating them from the body," explained Spanish researcher Asier Sáez-Cirión, the study's coordinator.
The researchers were able to identify the characteristics of CD4 T lymphocytes, the immune cells that HIV activates and uses to make copies of itself. This research found that the virus infects cells with a strong metabolic activity, such as CD4, in which glucose consumption plays an extremely important role.
"Understanding this mechanism will open a door to eliminate infected cells. The discovery is a promising first step, although it still needs to be applied to patients," the researchers said.