Researchers found no trace of the virus after the 3-step treatment.
A group of universities in the UK has announced they may have succeeded in developing a treatment to cure HIV.
The new treatment differs from previous ones in that, while it destroys the active virus, it also targets dormant cells that house the disease.
The process involved three steps:
- Clinicians administered a course of anti-retroviral drugs that targeted T-cells infected with the virus to prevent them from reproducing.
- The patient then received a dose of a virus that actually enhanced his body’s immune system and prepared it to fight the HIV virus.
- A final drug drew out the infected cells, which were destroyed by the patient’s strengthened immune system.
The 44-year-old British man is the first of the initial 50-person group to complete the new treatment process. His latest blood test reveals no trace of the virus in his system.
The crucial third step that draws out the dormant infected cells is the biggest departure from standard treatments and combats the resurgence of the disease that can often happen years after treatment. However, because such resurgence is known to happen long after the active traces are gone, only time will tell if the treatment truly destroyed all traces of the virus.
To date, the only person to be declared completely cured of HIV is Timothy Ray Brown, who underwent a full bone marrow transplant to treat leukemia. Since his donor was immune to HIV, when Timothy’s body used the stem cells to regrow his own, his new cells became cancer- and HIV-free.
And while researchers and medical professionals will not be able to confirm the UK treatment as an official cure for some years, the development is a thrilling one in the continued research to find a cure for the 37 million people worldwide currently living with HIV.