The 44-year-old British man is actually the first person in the history to be cured of HIV! Scientists told The Sunday Times that presently the virus is completely undetectable in the man’s blood and if it remains that way it will be the first complete cure.
A team assembled from five UK universities is currently conducting experiments on 50 people. “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” said Mark Samuels, managing director of the National Institute for Health Research Office for Clinical Research Infrastructure.
HIV is not that easy to treat because it targets the immune system, joining itself into the DNA of T-cells so that they not only ignore the disease, but turn into viral factories which reproduce the virus. Currently, anti-retroviral therapies can target active T-cells which are infected with HIV but they cannot treat dormant T-cells. This means that patient’s body continues to produce the virus.
The new therapy works in two stages. Firstly, a vaccine helps the body recognise the HIV-infected cells so it can clear them out. Secondly, a new drug called Vorinostat activates the dormant T-cells so they can be spotted by the immune system.
“This therapy is specifically designed to clear the body of all HIV viruses, including dormant ones,” Professor Sarah Fidler, a consultant physician at Imperial College London, told the Times.
Fiddler told times “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.”