An HIV cure looks possible "within months," according to Danish scientists. They are testing a brand new HIV treatment in human trials, and they are reportedly confident that their strategy will result in a cure for the AIDS-causing virus.
The HIV cure that the Danish scientists are testing has already been tested successfully in lab experiments. According to the Telegraph, he process involves freeing the HIV virus from DNA cells, where it collects in "reservoirs," and bringing it to the surface of the cells. Once the virus is brought to the surface, it can be permanently destroyed by a vaccine that primes the body's natural immune system.
This HIV cure that may be possible within months would be a definitive step forward in finding a cure for the virus that causes AIDS. So far, clinical trials of the treatment are "promising," according to Dr. Ole Sogaard, a senior researcher at the Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark.
In vitro studies (using human cells in a laboratory) proved so successful that the Danish Research Council awarded the research team 12 million Danish kroner (£1.5 million, or approximately $2,326,650) to continue pursuing their clinical trials with human subjects. These human clinical trials are under way. "I am almost certain that we will be successful in releasing the reservoirs of HIV," Sogaard says.
The HIV cure's human clinical trials include fifteen patients, and if they are found to be successfully cured of HIV, then it will be tested on a wider scale. "The challenge will be getting the patients' immune system to recognize the virus and destroy it," added Sogaard. "This depends on the strength and sensitivity of individual immune systems."
"The challenge will be getting the patients' immune system to recognize the virus and destroy it," said Sogaard. "This depends on the strength and sensitivity of individual immune systems, as well as how large a proportion of the hidden HIV is unmasked."
However, the Danish scientists are quick to say that the possible HIV cure that may be discovered within months is different from a preventative vaccine. That means people should still take the same amount of care with their sexual practices and drug use, including avoiding unprotected sex and sharing needles for intravenous drug use.
"When the first patient is cured [using this technique] it will be a spectacular moment," says Dr. John Frater, a clinical research fellow at the Nuffield School of Medicine, Oxford University. "It will prove that we are heading in the right direction and demonstrate that a cure is possible. But I think it will be five years before we see a cure that can be offered on a large scale."
Recently, another experimental HIV vaccine was being tested, but study on the "cure" was stopped because the shots weren't preventing infection, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The clinical trial included 2,500 people in 19 cities.
Half of the participants were given the vaccine developed by the NIH, and the other half received placebo shots. Slightly more people who had received the vaccine later became infected with HIV. The reasoning behind this outcome remains unclear to this day.