Researchers Optimistic After Man Cured of HIV in Experimental Trial
Science| | By Margo Gothelf
A man from England could be making history by being the first person to be cured of HIV.
Thanks to a team of scientists, doctors, and a new experimental therapy, a 44-year-old patient’s blood is now free from HIV, the virus that can lead to AIDS. The trial was conducted on 50 different individuals from a team of people across five different U.K. universities.
“We are exploring the real possibility of curing HIV,” Mark Samuels, a managing director of the National Institute for Health Research Office for Clinical Research Infrastructure explained to The Times. “This is a huge challenge and it’s still early days but the progress has been remarkable.”
Current treatments cannot treat dormant T-cells, allowing them to reproduce the virus.
“Currently, antiretroviral therapies can target active T-cells which are infected with HIV but they cannot treat dormant T-cells,” shared Gizmodo.
However, this new experimental treatment targets the dormant cells making it a real game changer.
“This therapy is specifically designed to clear the body of all HIV viruses, including dormant ones,” Professor Sarah Fidler, a consultant physician at Imperial College London, told The Times.
The treatment, which works in two different stages, starts with a vaccine that recognizes HIV-infected cells. Next, a drug called Vorinostat targets dormant T-cells, giving the patients a strong boost in their poor immune system.
The successful trial patients identity is still unknown, but he shared that he is thrilled about the outcome.
“It would be great if a cure has happened. My last blood test was a couple of weeks ago and there is no detectable virus,” the man said.
While this is a major step in the right direction, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.
“We will continue with medical tests for the next five years and at the moment we are not recommending stopping Art [antiretroviral therapy] but in the future, depending on the test results we may explore this,” Fidler shared.