A 44-year-old man in Britain is said to have been “cured” of HIV after receiving experimental treatment. The drug trial, being conducted by professors of five United Kingdom universities, will treat and test 50 people diagnosed within six months of starting the trial.
As of right now, the only approved treatment for human immunodeficiency virus is a list of antiviral medications. This makes the virus a chronic condition, as the drugs can only attack active T-cells (the cells that hold the virus). The drugs cannot fight dormant cells, so the HIV virus is always there, lurking behind the scenes.
The managing director of the National Institute for Health Research Office for Clinical Research Infrastructure commented on the research done during this clinical trial, which consists of a team of professors and lab personnel from five UK universities. Mark Samuels stated that the progress made so far towards a cure for HIV is remarkable, but that there is still a long road ahead of them.
This is how the pioneering treatment, called “kick and kill,” works. The trial participants who are randomly chosen take two vaccines designed to teach the immune system to spot HIV cells. They are then given the FDA approved cancer drug vorinostat, on top of their four antiretroviral medications. This new drug is used to awaken the virus-ridden cells.
According to The Body, the nameless social worker was tested and diagnosed within six months of contracting the disease. He then started the trial, which consists of taking four antiretroviral medications. Half of the patients, including the British man, will be randomly chosen to take part in the innovative treatment. This consists of taking a drug called vorinostat, a FDA approved cancer drug, which forces the virus to come out of hiding. The patients also take two vaccines to boost the immune system.
It is important to note that the vaccines, according to CBS New York, do not prevent HIV. They just make it so that the dormant cells are awakened for other medications to work. Mars Samuels, who works for the British Institute for Health Research, stated that there are 37 million people diagnosed internationally with the virus. Only half of those diagnosed seek treatment.
While the British man prefers to stay nameless, he did release a statement about how wonderful it would be if this is a cure. In the meantime, he is just happy that his last blood test, which was a few weeks ago, showed no detectable HIV virus.
It is important to note that there will be several years of testing and monitoring before this is deemed a cure. It is too soon for this qualifications, as the clinical trial will not end until 2018. For more CDA News, follow our tweets on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
By Mia Nichols