Breakthrough in search for HIV cure as scientists successfully treat infected man

Posted by Nelson Dafe | 4 October 2016 | 3,176 times

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Scientists have been able to treat a man with HIV to the level where the virus is now undetectable in his blood, leading hopes that a cure for HIV could have been found.

The 44-year old Briton is one of the 50 persons undergoing HIV treatment trials being conducted by researchers from the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London, University College London and King's College London. The treatment targets HIV even in its dormant state.

Mark Samuels, managing director of the National Institute for Health Research Office for Clinical Research Infrastructure said it’s the first serious attempt at HIV cure.

“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,” he said.

Tackling HIV has until now been limited to Anti Retroviral Therapies (ART) which aims to control the spread of HIV in the human immune system. But because the virus embeds itself in the T-Cells, it is very difficult to spot it in its dormant stage.

The new therapy works in two stages. Firstly, a vaccine helps the body recognise the HIV-infected cells so it can clear them out. Secondly, a new drug called Vorinostat activates the dormant T-cells so they can be spotted by the immune system.

Professor Sarah Fidler, a consultant physician at Imperial College London expressed confidence that the treatment would work but stressed that there’s still some way to go before any actual therapy.

She added: “We will continue with medical tests for the next five years and at the moment we are not recommending stopping ART but in the future depending on the test results we may explore this.”

About 37 million people worldwide are said to be currently living with HIV with many not knowing their HIV status.

Source: News Express

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