Merck has provided early evidence of the use of drugs to eradicate hidden reservoirs of the HIV virus in the body.
Writing in the scientific journal Nature, Merck Research Laboratories said there is potential for histone deacetylase inhibitors, a group of compounds used to treat epilepsy, to attack "dormant virus pools".
The firm collaborated with researchers from the University of North Carolina (UNC), the Harvard School of Public Health, the National Cancer Institute, and the University of California to conduct the study.
Merck Research Laboratories vice president Daria Hazuda said, "We believe that the disruption and clearance of these virus reservoirs is a critical first step to the daunting challenge of finding a cure for HIV/AIDS."
"We are excited about this pioneering research and remain hopeful for its potential."
This research was first presented in March at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle, and more recently at the International AIDS Conference in Washington DC.
UNC professor of medicine, microbiology and immunology David Margolis, who led the study, said, "This work provides compelling evidence to support a strategy to directly attack and eradicate latent HIV infection."