A kidney disease treatment successfully compensated for the effects of a leaking gut among monkeys infected with the simian version of HIV, improving HIV-related aspects of their health, New Scientist reports. Publishing their findings in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers gave three months of daily doses of the drug sevelamer to pigtailed macaque monkeys acutely infected with SIV, HIV's simian cousin.

Used to treat chronic kidney disease, sevelamer binds to phosphates in the gut that the damaged kidneys fail to expel. In addition, the drug can bind to the kind of bacterial proteins that can in theory leak from a gut damaged by HIV. Scientists have proposed that this process, called microbial translocation, may prompt immune activation, inflammation and coagulopathy (a condition in which the blood's ability to clot is impaired), which all contribute to the progression of HIV disease as well as other comorbid conditions.

The researchers found that, when compared with a control group of monkeys that did not receive sevelamer, those that did receive the drug enjoyed dramatic drops in immune activation and inflammation and a slightly lowered SIV viral load. There was also evidence that the drug reduced coagulopathy.

The study suggests that controlling early for microbial translocation among people with HIV may improve their long-term health prospects, both in terms of HIV disease progression and other AIDS-defining comorbidities.

To read the New Scientist article, click here.

To read the study, click here.