Doctors on the Cusp of Developing Cure for HIVadmin
Early trials by a team of five UK universities show optimistic progress in developing a cure for HIV. A 44-year-old British man is one of 50 patients currently participating in a trial treatment which targets the disease even in its dormant state, The Telegraph reports, and he could become the first person in the world to be cured of HIV using this therapy.
Presently, the virus is completely undectable in the man’s blood. While scientists admit that this could be due to regular treatment, if the dormant cells are also clear, this could represent a complete cure. Full trial results are expected to be published in 2018.
This new treatment involves three steps. First, current anti-retroviral drugs are used to prevent infected T-cells from multiplying. Next, the patients are infected with a virus that boosts the immune system, giving it the ability to find and destroy infected T-cells. In the final step, the patient is given a second drug known as vorinostat, which activates the dormant T-cells, forcing them to express HIV-associated proteins “and flagging them up to the enhanced immune system which can then destroy them. This technique has been called the ‘kick and kill’ strategy,” IFLScience.com reported.
“It would be great if a cure has happened,” the patient told The Sunday Times. “My last blood test was a couple of weeks ago and there is no detectable virus. However, that could be the anti-retroviral therapies, so we have to wait to be sure.”
“This is one of the first serious attempts at a full cure for HIV,” said Mark Samuels, managing director of the National Institute for Health Research Office for Clinical Research Infrastructure, which is also involved with this trial along with the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College of London, University College London, and King’s College London. “We are exploring the real possibility of curing HIV. This is a huge challenge and it’s still early days, but the progress has been remarkable.”
Watch a brief video on the study here.