Report: New therapy makes HIV virus vanish from the blood of patient

The HIV virus has apparently disappeared from the British man's blood. Photo / 123rf
The HIV virus has apparently disappeared from the British man's blood. Photo / 123rf

Scientists in Britain are hopeful they may have cured HIV after the virus vanished from the blood of a patient treated with a new therapy.

According to The Sunday Times, the 44-year-old is one of 50 people currently trialling a treatment that targets the disease even in its dormant state.

The unidentified patient, a social care worker in London, said: "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."

The therapy was created by a team of scientists from five UK universities: Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London, University College London and King's College London.

Scientists told the paper the virus is currently undetectable in the man's blood and if it stays that way it will be the first complete cure.

Mark Samuels, managing director of the UK's National Institute for Health Research Office for Clinical Research Infrastructure, told the paper: "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."

HIV targets the immune system, attaching itself to the DNA of T-cells, where the disease can both hide out and reproduce.

Current antiretroviral therapies (Art) target that process but cannot spot dormant infected T-cells.

The new therapy works firstly by recognising and removing the HIV-infected cells. In the next stage, a new drug called Vorinostat turns the dormant T-cells active so that they can be spotted and then targeted by the immune system.

Around 37 million are living with HIV worldwide, many of them in Sub-Saharan Africa.

- news.com.au

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