Cure For HIV Imminent?

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Ben Cohen
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HIV cells (image via Shutterstock)

The Telegraph broke this last week, raising hope for millions around the world diagnosed with HIV:

Danish scientists are hoping for results that will show that “finding a mass-distributable and affordable cure to HIV is possible”.

They are conducting a clinical trial to test a “novel strategy” in which the HIV virus is "reactivated" from its hiding place within human DNA and potentially destroyed permanently by the immune system.

The move would represent a step forward in the attempt to find a cure for the virus, which causes Aids.

The scientists are currently conducting human trials on their treatment, in the hope of proving that it is effective. It has already been found to work in laboratory tests.

The technique involves unmasking the “reservoirs” formed by the HIV virus inside resting immune cells, bringing it to the surface of the cells. Once it comes to the surface, the body’s natural immune system may be able to kill the virus.

However, the Huffington Post released this story yesterday, warning everyone not to gett too excited:

An HIV cure "within months?" Not exactly.

Researchers from Denmark have begun human clinical trials in their experimental HIV treatment, The Telegraph first reported. However, the team is not on the"brink" of a cure for HIV, as some have said; they instead expect the first results from the trial "within months."

"We're not months away from a cure," Kevin Robert Frost, CEO of amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, told The Huffington Post. "There is still a lot of work that has to be done."

Funded by amfAR, Danish researchers recently launched the initial stage of their clinical trial following an in vitro laboratory study conducted at Aarhus University Hospital. In the study, the researchers found success in using a specific drug to reactivate the hidden form of HIV. Only then, once the virus is drawn out of the "reservoirs" it forms in immune cells, can researchers even attempt to neutralize the HIV infection.

"Essentially, the biggest obstacle to a cure for people with HIV is that the virus lives in viral reservoirs which are not susceptible to the current drugs we have," Frost explained. "What a lot of scientists have been trying to do lately is figure out if there are drugs that can stimulate the viral reservoirs so that we may begin to target them."

Either way, it definitely looks like some major headway is being made in the fight against the deadly disease.