A British man could be the first person in the world to be cured of HIV with the use of a new therapy designed by a team of scientists from five UK universities.
The 44-year-old is one of the 50 people currently undergoing the treatment which targets the disease even in its dormant state. The scientists have told The Sunday Times that at present, the virus is completely undetectable in the man’s blood, although that could be a result of regular drugs. However, they stated that if the dormant cells are cleared out too, then it could be the first complete cure for HIV. Trial results are expected to be published in 2018.
“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 in its early days, but the progress has been remarkable” said Mark Samuels, the managing director of the National Institute for Health Research Office for Clinical Research Infrastructure.
The trial is being undertaken by researchers from the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London, University College London and King’s College London.
The new therapy works in two stages. First, 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 (a type of white blood cells), so they can be spotted by the immune system.
Currently, anti-retroviral therapies can target active T-cells (a type of white blood cells), which are infected with HIV, but they cannot treat dormant T-cells. This means that patient’s body continues to produce the virus.
“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.
Fiddler told times “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.”
Facts about HIV
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) harms the immune system by destroying the white blood cells that fight infection and thus, it is difficult to cure it. But there are many medicines that fight HIV infection and can lower the risk of infecting others.
- People who get early treatment can live with the disease for a long time. This puts you at the risk for serious infections and even some cancers.
- AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. It is the final stage of infection with HIV. Not everyone with HIV develops AIDS.
- An estimated number of people living with HIV in India is 2.08 million in 2011. The first unidentified patient, a social care worker in London, said: “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.
- Only one person has ever been cured of HIV. He is Timothy Brown, also known as The ‘second’ Berlin Patient, who received a stem cell transplant from a patient with natural immunity to HIV in 2008.
Inputs from indiatimes.com & telegraph.co.uk