New HIV treatment a step closer to cure

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A man has ‘undetectable’ levels of the virus after undergoing a trial treatment developed by scientists from 5 of the United Kingdom’s top universities

MANILA, Philippines (Oct. 3, 2016) — Is the world one step closer to a cure for HIV? British scientists believe so, after a report Sunday, October 2, of a man reportedly testing negative after undergoing a trial treatment in the United Kingdom. 

Initial tests showed that a 44-year-old British patient had “undetectable” levels of the virus after undergoing a trial treatment that targets the virus in the entire body, UK newspaper The Sunday Times reported.

The new treatment, The Sunday Times reports, differs from the current anti-retroviral therapies (ART) treatment because it does a “kick and kill” strategy.

In the current ART treatment, only active T-cells – a type of cell that is part of the immune system – are targeted and suppressed. The system being tested involves boosting immunity and activating dormant T-cells, which, if infected, will then be targeted for the kill.

“This therapy is specifically designed to clear the body of all HIV viruses, including dormant ones,” Professor Sarah Fidler from Imperial College London told The Sunday Times.

The new treatment system has been backed by an “unprecedented collaboration” between some of the UK’s top universities: Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London, University College London, and King’s 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 said.

Despite need for further study, the findings are promising, as it could pave the way for treatments that eliminate the virus, not just suppress it, Ian Green of the AIDS charity Terrence Higgins Trust told the newspaper.

The initial trial has 50 patients, and the patient is the first one to finish the treatment. The patient, who has been identified as a gay social worker from London, told the paper that the negative result could be due to the conventional drugs he has taken, and they still have to wait for several months to be sure.

Around 36.7 million people around the world are living with HIV/AIDS, with only around 17 million receiving treatment.


  by KD Suarez | Rappler.com