HIV relapsed on two Boston patients motivate scientists to look for better treatment methods and ways to create a functional cure against the virus. The unfortunate event revealed several important factors on how to stop HIV/AIDS for good.
Bone Marrow Transplant
HIV returned to two Boston patients after receiving bone marrow transplants and now re-taking antiretroviral drug therapy to prevent AIDS to occur. Experts initially got disappointed but now motivated to put more efforts on solving the mysteries behind the deadly virus.
"It's a setback for the patients, of course, but an advance for the field because the field has now gained a lot more knowledge," said by Professor and HIV expert Steven Deeks at the University of California, San Francisco quoted by CBS News.
Timothy Brown, the famous Berlin patient remains free from HIV after undergoing bone marrow transplant for his blood cancer. He gained the ability to resist HIV upon receiving a rare genetic mutation from his donor during an expensive and life-threatening procedure. Brown's case gave an important leap to current cure and vaccine research against HIV.
Five Factors May Unlock Cure
Researchers are currently looking into every aspect of strengths and weaknesses of HIV to create a functional cure or vaccine against it. Studies reveal hidden traits and qualities on how the virus infects and stay safe from advance treatments. Here are five factors which may unlock a cure in the near future.
1. Genetic Therapy A small population in Europe has a genetic mutation resistant against HIV infection that may be used as treatment from successful engineering. The mutation makes the virus unable to attach itself from vulnerable T-cells and helps the immune system kill the invader. If successful, HIV infected patients will never need to undergo transplant and may simply take a pill to get the resistance.
2. Preventing Suicide New studies reveal that the immune system uses a response called pyroptosis or self-destruction protocol to kill infected cells, reducing cell count. Preventing the suicide response will prevent further spread of viral components in the body and stop the massive cell count drop.
3. Reviving Infected Cells Biomedical researchers at Dresden Technical University developed an HIV virus stripping process to cut viral load from DNA of infected cells. Using a special enzyme, reintroduced stem cells to the body helps elimination of HIV from infected cells by altering their DNA structure.
4. De-cloaking HIV HIV can hide itself from the immune system using a 'cloaking' skill. Current research led to the development of a modified drug to de-cloak the virus and enable the immune system to respond.
5. Antibody Therapy The same monoclonal antibody therapy used to treat several cancers, malignant tumours and autoimmune diseases is now considered to become a viable treatment against HIV. Using monoclonal antibodies simulate immune response as it binds to HIV protein to neutralise and eliminate the virus.
2014 is another year of challenge for medical experts and researchers on unlocking better, economic and practical treatments against HIV. Hopefully, ongoing cure and vaccine research can pass clinical trials and meet the commercial demands for the masses to reach.