HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. HIV is a virus that attacks cells of one’s immune system. If left untreated, HIV can lead to the disease AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). HIV once attacks the body it is implausible to cure it completely. Thereby, HIV is a dangerous virus that takes away lives and it is alarming to know that the wide population of the world suffers from HIV. It has been identified recently that a person from Britain is possibly the first person to be cured of HIV. This is definitely a great mark to show a way towards curing HIV by targeting infected T-cells.
HIV specifically attacks the immune cells, CD4 cells (T-cells), which helps fight off the infections. If left untreated, HIV reduces the number of CD4 cells in the body, making it prone to more infections and cancer-related diseases.
A team of scientists 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.”
At present antiretroviral therapies are able to target active T-cells that are infected with HIV. However, they cannot treat dormant T-cells. Thereby, the bodies infected with HIV virus despite therapies reproduce the virus and is, therefore, incurable.
Professor Sarah Fidler, a consultant physician at Imperial College London said, “This therapy is specifically designed to clear the body of all HIV viruses, including dormant ones,”
The present therapy newly developed involves two stages of treatment. It consists of a vaccine to help the body recognise the HIV-infected T-cells. A drug called Vorinostat activates the dormant T- cells. This process could give the immune system the kind of tools it needs to fight against HIV-infected cells.
Scientists working on an experimental new therapy say that the virus is now completely undetectable in a 44-year-old man in England infected with HIV.
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.”