British Scientists On The Way To Finding A Cure For HIV

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Microscopic HIV virus. Early tests on the first person to complete the treatment show no signs of the virus in his blood. Photograph: GeoStock/Getty Images
The Petty Room

British scientists are optimistic that they are on the way to finding a cure for HIV. This after a recent promising clinical trial, in which a test patient was shown to have no symptoms of the virus following treatment.

The breakthrough research is being carried out by five of Britain’s top universities with NHS support, is combining standard antiretroviral drugs with a drug that reactivates dormant HIV and a vaccine that induces the immune system to destroy the infected cells.

While antiretroviral drugs are very effective at subduing the disease, current medications cannot cure it. This is largely because HIV is a master of disguise:

An HIV-positive 44-year-old man who was the first of a group of 50 people participating in a clinical trial shows the virus to be absent in his system. Though the trial is still in its early stages, scientists are hopeful that they are on their way to a breakthrough.

The Guardian:

HIV is able to hide from the immune system in dormant cells where highly sophisticated modern testing cannot find it, and therefore resist therapy. The treatment endeavours to trick the virus into emerging from its hiding places and then trigger the body’s immune system to recognise it and attack it.

As the NIH’s Mark Samuels told the Times:

“This is one of the first serious attempts at a full cure for HIV. 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.”

There are approximately 37 million people living with HIV worldwide and about 35 million people have died from the virus.

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