A team of researchers have likely cured a British man from HIV with the help of a new therapy that targets the disease even in the dormant state.
A 44-year-old, whose name is not disclosed, is one of the 50 HIV patients that participated in the trial conducted by researchers from five universities in Britain, including Cambridge, Oxford, King's College London, University College London and Imperial College London.
According to the researchers, no virus could be detected in the 44-year-old's blood, however, that could be because of consumption of regular antiviral drugs as well. On the other hand, if dormant cells are cleared completely as a result of the new advanced therapy, it is certain that he would be the first patient in the world to have gotten cured of HIV completely.
Mark Samuels, managing director of the National Institute for Health Research Office for Clinical Research Infrastructure, said that it is the first ever therapy that is aimed at finding a complete cure for HIV. The researcher who noted that the team is exploring ways to find cure for the fatal infection added that though the trial is in its initial stages the progress is very impressive.
Finding a cure for HIV is a big challenge for researchers as the virus targets and bonds with the DNA of the T-cells and makes it undetectable by the host immune system. In addition, the virus also multiplies exponentially inside the T-cells without being attacked by the immune cells.
The traditional antiviral therapies fight the viruses but don't target the dormant cells that pose potential risk to the host. On the contrary, the new therapy fights the virus as well as targets the dormant cells. It acts as a vaccine that helps the body's immune system to recognize and fight the virus while another drug named Vorinostat activates the dormant cells which in turn is recognized by the immune system as well.
"This therapy is specifically designed to clear the body of all HIV viruses, including dormant ones," said Professor Sarah Fidler, a consultant physician at Imperial College London. "It has worked in the laboratory and there is good evidence it will work in humans too, but we must stress we are still a long way from any actual therapy."
Fidler, who said that the medical tests will be continued for next five years, also noted that HIV patients are not recommended to give upon their antiviral medications until the drug is proven effective.
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