The patients were also on antiretroviral drugs, which stops HIV from multiplying but have to be taken for life because they do not kill the virus hidden away in reservoirs.
"After a single dose of the drug, at least for a moment in time, (vorinostat) is flushing the virus out of hiding," Margolis said of the trial results -- the first drug ever shown to do so.
The drug targets an enzyme that allows the virus to lie latent.
The researchers cautioned that vorinostat may have some toxic effects and stressed this was merely an early indication of feasibility that had to be explored further.
There is a possibility that this could work. But ... if it is only 99 percent true and one percent of the virus escapes, it won't succeed. That is why we have to be careful about our work and what we claim about it."
In a comment published with the study, HIV researcher Steven Deeks said the research provided "the first evidence that ... a cure might one day be feasible".
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