The results of a recent HIV treatment trial run by several British institutions are promising, and may mean the discovery of a cure for HIV.
Fifty patients took part in the trial, conducted by Imperial College London, University College London, King’s College London and the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. The NHS also supported the research.
In one patient there no sign of the virus after a months long trial.
The man, aged 44 and a social worker in London, told the Times: ‘It would be great if a cure has happened. My last blood test was a couple of weeks ago and there is no detectable virus.’
It may yet be the result of conventional treatments and so doctors are wary of announcing the trial a success.
‘It could be the anti-retroviral therapies, so we have to wait to be sure,’ he said. It will be several months before they can say for sure.
‘I took part in the trial to help others as well as myself. It would be a massive achievement if, after all these years, something is found to cure people of this disease.
‘The fact that I was a part of that would be incredible,’ he added.
The new treatment uses both conventional HIV treatments and a new drug that reactivates old HIV cells, and uses them to teach the body to attack HIV cells, simlar to a vaccine.
There are treatments available for HIV currently, but none that cure the virus permanently.
Truvada, or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), can significantly help prevent people from catching the virus if taken daily.
Even if the cure does work a treatment deriving will be a ‘long way’ off, says professor Sarah Fidler, a consultant physician at Imperial College.
The managing director at the Health Research Office for Clinical Research Infrastructure, Mark Samuels, said: ‘This is one of the first serious attempts at a full cure for HIV. We are exploring the real possibility of curing HIV.’
The institution was instrumental in setting up the program.
‘This is a huge challenge and it’s still early days but the progress has been remarkable,’ he said.