A British man may have become the first person in the world to be cured of HIV, following a groundbreaking new trial conducted by UK scientists.
The new therapy, which is still in the early stages of development, is currently being tested by a team of researchers from five universities. 50 people with HIV are being given the treatment, with results showing an extremely positive reaction from the first participant to complete the tests. According to reports in The Sunday Times, the virus “vanished” from the 44-year-old man’s blood following the therapy, making it completely undetectable.
“This is one of the first serious attempts at a full cure for HIV,” explained Mark Samuels, managing director of the National Institute for Health Research Office for Clinical Research Infrastructure. “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.”
Standard HIV treatment currently relies on antiretroviral drugs, which stops the disease from developing but do not fully eradicate it. However, this new therapy attempts to target the dormant cells which are left unidentified; reactivating them and clearing them out from the body. While there is still some way to go before it’s proven to be an effective and usable cure, the early results look hopeful.
“It would be great if a cure has happened,” said one unidentified participant. “My last blood test was a couple of weeks ago and there is no detectable virus. 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.”
The trial is ongoing, and is being undertaken by researchers from Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London, University College London and King's College London.