There’s no cure for HIV. But after the Sunday Times reported that a British man was cured of HIV using a therapy discovered by a team of scientists from the UK, an HIV treatment could just be around the corner.
The British man is a 44-year-old person who’s part of the 50 individuals who participated in the trial treatment. The treatment is designed to target the disease even in its dormant stage.
Presently, the HIV is undetectable in the patient’s blood. Scientists said that if it remains that way, he’ll be the first person to be cured. This case is one of the first attempts at finding a cure for this disease. Although it’s still early to say that it’s indeed an HIV cure, the progress is considered as remarkable.
The HIV cure trial is being undertaken by scientists from several universities, such as Oxford, Imperial College Lond, King’s College London, Cambridge, and University College London.
Why is it unfathomable to find the cure for this disease?
One of the reasons HIV is complicated to treat is that it targets the patient’s immune system. It joins with the DNA of T-cells. As a result, the cells will ignore the disease. They also become viral factories that reproduce the virus.
Current treatments are being used. They’re known as the anti-retroviral therapies. They target the process of the virus replicating. Unfortunately, they can’t spot infected T-cells that are still in the dormant stage.
The latest treatment, however, works in two phases. The first step involves a vaccine that assists the body in recognizing those infected T-cells. From there, it can start clearing them out. Then, a new drug called Vorinostat is introduced. It activates the dormant T-cells. In that way, they’ll be seen by the immune system.
In the UK, there are over 100,000 patients with this condition. But 17 percent of them don’t know that they have this condition. Worldwide, there are 37 million people infected with it.
It’d be great if HIV cure would be discovered. The British man said that his blood test was taken two weeks ago and the virus couldn't be found. For him, it’s a massive achievement if it’s indeed a cure.
This therapy aimed to clear the system of all HIV viruses. As mentioned earlier, the treatment includes even those dormant ones. Scientists working on this cure said that the treatment worked in the laboratory and they’re positive that it’ll work in humans. However, they admitted that this discovery is still a long way from the actual HIV cure.
The medical tests will still continue for the next five years. At the moment, the scientists don’t recommend patients with HIV to cease from taking ART (anti-retroviral therapies).
There’s only one person who has ever been cured of the disease. This patient received a stem cell transplant in 2008 from a patient who’s naturally immune to HIV.
Currently, a drug that can cure HIV isn't available yet. With the results of this study, it looks promising because it doesn't just suppress the virus, but it also eradicates it.