Scientists and clinicians in the United Kingdom are working on a breakthrough cure for HIV infection and they have made remarkable progress after a test patient showed no sign of the virus following treatment.
The research, 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.
Antiretoviral drugs alone are highly effective at stopping the virus from reproducing but do not eradicate the disease.
Fifty patients are taking part in the trial and early tests on the first person to complete the treatment show no signs of the virus in his blood.
There is still a long way to go before the treatment can be deemed a success as the virus has previously re-emerged in people thought to have been “cured” and the use of antiretroviral drugs means the researchers cannot be sure the HIV has gone.
However, the managing director of the National Institute for Health Research Office for Clinical Research Infrastructure, Mark Samuels told the Sunday 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.”