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Possible Cure for HIV With New Treatment

Health In Focus   - G J E 4
Highlights
  • Current HIV treatment suppresses the infection but does not result in a complete cure
  • A newer approach that finds the dormant T cells with the virus and awakens the virus has the potential to completely cure the infection
  • The treatment includes the use of a vaccine and a drug called vorinostat

A new treatment could possibly cure the infectious disease HIV and provides hope to numerous HIV-infected people. The research is being carried out in the Oxford and Cambridge Universities, Imperial College London, University College London, and King's College London with the support of the National Health Service (NHS).
Possible Cure for HIV With New Treatment
Possible Cure for HIV With New Treatment
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Patients of the sexually-transmitted disease HIV progress to AIDS, which is a life-threatening condition characterized by reduced immunity and development of repeated infections and cancers. An HIV infection once spelt sure death, and a positive HIV test brought great fear. With the availability of antiretroviral drugs for its treatment, the disease has been under control in several patients, who are living near-normal lives. Use of single medication results in drug resistance, which is why patients are prescribed a combination of medications.

‘A possible cure for HIV is on the horizon with a new treatment that “kicks and kills” the HIV virus.’
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The current treatment for HIV does not clear the virus completely from the body or result in a complete cure. Some virus manages to hide in certain dormant T cells of the immune system, and re-emerges from the infected cells if the anti-HIV medications are stopped. Though you may come across several cases of cure from the virus on the internet, an established treatment to bring about the cure does not exist. The patient has to take the medication continuously; stopping the medication could make the infection evident once again.

A new treatment in clinical trials appears to bring about a complete cure from the infection using the "kick and kill" technique. In this treatment, the patient is first administered a vaccine that finds the T-cells, a type of immune cells, that hide the virus within. The patient is then administered a drug called vorinostat.

Vorinostat is currently approved for a type of cancer of the immune cells called T- cell lymphoma, and is being investigated for its potential benefit in HIV. Vorinostat is a latency-reversing agent, which means, it reactivates the inactive and hidden HIV in the dormant T cells. Researchers hope that these reactivated cells will die off or be killed by the immune system, and the HIV virus can be prevented from entering and infecting other cells using the routine anti-HIV treatment. This approach could clear the body of the virus completely.

Fifty HIV positive patients entered a clinical trial to test the effectiveness of this treatment. The good news is, the first person to complete the trial, a forty four year old British man, has tested negative for the HIV virus. Scientists, however, add a word of caution. Though the patient has been apparently cured, he still has to be monitored for a few years before which he can be declared as completely cured of the viral infection.

References:
  1. Vorinostat Information - (https:aidsinfo.nih.gov/drugs/529/vorinostat/0/patient)
Source: Medindia
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