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The cure for HIV could be just around the corner

 In what could potentially be an incredible breakthrough, the first of 50 patients to complete a clinical trial of a new HIV treatment in the UK is showing no signs of the virus in his blood.
 
While this initial discovery is very promising, it’s far too early to say that the virus has been cured just yet, and this is because the virus can return. In addition, there’s also the presence of anti-HIV drugs in his system, which at the present moment makes it difficult to determine exactly whether traces of the virus are actually gone for good.
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The trial is being conducted by five British universities in collaboration with the UK’s National Health Service. These parties believe that they’re on the verge of defeating HIV once and for all.

Mark Samuels, Managing Director of the National Institute for Health Research Office for Clinical Research Infrastructure, said that the trial was one of the first serious attempts at curing HIV. He added that it was a huge challenge, and the trial is still in its infancy, however the progress that has been made to date is truly remarkable.

The difficulty with treating HIV is that it hides in dormant cells that the human immune system cannot get to. The treatment being used in the clinical trial is the first that’s aimed at destroying HIV in every part of the body.

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It combines a drug that reactivates dormant cells that contain HIV with a vaccine that’s designed to help the immune system locate and kill them. The vaccine is the first part of the treatment administered to the patients, waking up the dormant cells, followed by a drug called Vorinostat, which allows the immune system to finish them off.
 

Current antiretroviral drugs are effective at stopping HIV in its tracks, however no treatment that kills off the virus altogether has been discovered to date. This new treatment, therefore, has the hope of 37 million people around the globe riding on it.

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The 44-year-old man, who’s currently showing no signs of HIV in his blood, is the first to finish the trial. It will be a few months before the effects of his ARVs will wear off, so for now, it can’t be said for sure whether he’s been cured once and for all. It also remains to be seen how the other patients taking part in the trial will fare once they have also gone through the process.
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If the man is cured, he will become only the second person in history to have been cured from the debilitating illness. The only person known to have been cured of HIV is an American man named Timothy Ray Brown, who was given a bone marrow transplant from a donor who was known to be resistant to HIV (only 1% of the entire world population was born with some form of HIV resistance).

 

That kind of treatment is too specific, too costly, and too dangerous to be used widely, which is why this new trial is causing a lot of excitement. With that being said, no-one is taking anything for granted, including the male patient himself.

In the meantime, all the world can do is sit back and wait for news of the trial to come through.

 

Content Source: Science Alert

Photos and cover by Deposit Photos

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