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ScienceDaily (Apr. 16, 2010) — To their surprise, researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) have discovered that morphine (a derivate of the opium poppy that is similar to heroin) protects rat neurons against HIV toxicity -- a finding they say might help in the design of new neuroprotective therapies for patients with the infection.
The discovery, being presented at the annual meeting of the Society of NeuroImmune Pharmacology, also helps explain why a subset of people who are heroin abusers and become infected with HIV through needle sharing don't develop HIV brain dementia. This brain disorder includes cognitive and motor abnormalities, anxiety and depression.
"Needless to say we were very surprised at the findings," he added. "We started with the opposite hypothesis -- that heroin was going to destroy neurons in the brain and lead to HIV dementia."
The researchers conducted the study because they knew that a number of HIV-positive people are also heroin abusers, and because of that, some are at high risk of developing neurological complications from the infection. Others, however, never develop these cognitive problems, Mocchetti says.
Originally posted by webpirate
Drug Shared by Addicts Seems to Protect Against HIV Brain Dementia