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Immune system boost cures HIV-like infections

A group of Australian scientists have been able to cure HIV-like infections in mice by boosting their immune systems.

Doctor Marc Pellegrini from Melbourne's Walter and Eliza Hall Institute found a hormone known as Interleukin 7 stimulates the body's response to an infection, causing it to clear the virus.

This process is called immune exhaustion.

"We found that Interleukin 7 boosted the immune response in a pretty profound fashion, such that animals were able to gradually clear the virus without too much collateral tissue damage," Dr Pellegrini said.

"The findings could lead to a cure for chronic viral infections like HIV, hepatitis B and C, and bacterial infections such as tuberculosis."

The aim of the research was to manipulate the immune system to fight off infection.

"Viruses such as HIV and hepatitis B and C overwhelm the immune system, leading to establishment of chronic infections that are lifelong and incurable," Dr Pellegrini said.