The HIV Virus Was Completely Eliminated from a British Patient’s Blood

January 14, 2019
According to UN statistics, more than 36 million people are infected by the HIV virus. If this new treatment is successful, it could offer hope for many.

Getting infected with the HIV virus (human immunodeficiency virus) is perhaps one of the greatest fears worldwide. Many people are infected today. If this treatment is successful, it could offer hope for many.

AIDS happens when the HIV virus infects the immune system cells. It alters the immune system or completely stops it from functioning, which doesn’t allow our body to fight off other infections and diseases.

After the initial infection, the patient may be unaware that they have HIV. This is because there are no evident symptoms of the disease at the beginning. Alternatively, the patient may only think they’re suffering from the flu.

However, as the disease progresses, the immune system weakens, which significantly increases the risk of respiratory infections, tumors, and other chronic conditions.

Unprotected sex with an infected person is the main way HIV is transmitted. However, people can also contract the virus by:

  • Receiving a contaminated blood transfusion.
  • Using infected needles or razors.
  • An infected mother passing it on to her child during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding.

Since it was discovered, this disease has been a challenge for the medical and scientific community because it affects patients in many ways and also because it’s difficult to control and treat.

In fact, although there have been many significant advances, there’s still no definitive cure for AIDS. However, all this can change thanks to a new development that has brought hope for a cure.

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Is this the end of the HIV virus and AIDS? A group of British scientists is on the brink of a cure

HIV virus.

The HIV virus disappeared from a 44-year-old British patient whose identity remains anonymous.

The treatment is part of an experimental study involving prestigious UK universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London, University College London, and King’s College London.

The first stage modified the virus which allowed the immune system to detect it. It then generated the antibodies needed to remove it from the blood.

Up until now, this treatment has been tested on another 50 patients, but doctors have high expectations for the results.

This man’s case is the first where the virus disappeared completely.

Scientist looking inside a microscope.

Despite this, experts point out that it’s still too early to say we have a definitive cure. It’s necessary to repeat the tests on the patient periodically to check that the virus doesn’t return.

HIV hides very well in the body. Typically, doctors detect the virus months after the initial infection.

“This is one of the first serious attempts at a full cure for HIV. 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 Infrastructure.

What does this new therapy entail?

Study of the HIV virus.

One of the major difficulties this disease poses for scientists is how to detect the virus.

This is because it has the ability to attach to T-cells, which become its main means of reproduction.

Unfortunately, current treatments can’t detect infected T-cells.  This is why British scientists have focused on this area.

The new therapy could possibly destroy HIV from all affected areas.

The treatment is a two-stage process. First, the patient receives a vaccine that helps the immune system detect infected cells to begin the cleaning process.

Then, in the second stage, the doctor administers a drug called Vorinostat to the patient. This drug has been used in severe cases of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, and it already shows some success in vitro.

When successful, this treatment not only cleanses the body of all viruses in reproduction, but it also removes those that are inactive.

A promising treatment

While there is evidence of at least two other patients who have been cured, this particular case is quite special.

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Millions of people infected with HIV in the world could benefit from it if successful. This disease is considered one of the most serious public health problems.

  • Verma, R., Khanna, P., Chawla, S., & Dhankar, M. (2016). HIV vaccine: Can it be developed in the 21st century? Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics. https://doi.org/10.1080/21645515.2015.1064571
  • Archin, N. M., Liberty, A. L., Kashuba, A. D., Choudhary, S. K., Kuruc, J. D., Crooks, A. M., … Margolis, D. M. (2012). Administration of vorinostat disrupts HIV-1 latency in patients on antiretroviral therapy. Nature. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature11286
  • Lucera, M. B., Tilton, C. A., Mao, H., Dobrowolski, C., Tabler, C. O., Haqqani, A. A., … Tilton, J. C. (2014). The Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor Vorinostat (SAHA) Increases the Susceptibility of Uninfected CD4+ T Cells to HIV by Increasing the Kinetics and Efficiency of Postentry Viral Events. Journal of Virology. https://doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00320-14