A 44-year-old man in England is possibly the first person in history to be cured of HIV. Scientists working on an experimental new therapy say that the virus is now completely undetectable in his blood.
A team gathered from five UK universities is currently conducting trials on 50 people. Mark Samuels, managing director of the National Institute for Health Research Office for Clinical Research Infrastructure, told The Sunday Times, “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.”
Currently, antiretroviral therapies can target active T-cells which are infected with HIV but they cannot treat dormant T-cells. This means that patients bodies continue to reproduce 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.
Working in two stages, the new treatment consists of a vaccine to help the body recognise any HIV-infected cells and a drug called Vorinostat activates the dormant T-cells. This method could give a patient’s immune system the tools it so desperately needs.
The patient has not been identified but we know he’s a social care worker in London. He is cautiously thrilled about the results saying, “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.”
Fidler says that the researchers are still a long way from a finished therapy, “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.”