Danish scientists claims the possibility for mass-distributable and affordable cure to HIV with a novel strategy of unmasking viral reservoirs to the surface for the immune system to fight off. In lab settings, the strategy worked successfully and now await clinical trials in human setting.
Distributable and Affordable Cure
Scientists at the Aarhus University in Denmark led by Dr Ole Sogaard and his team have been awarded £1.5 million or 12 million Danish kroner after successfully proved their new technique under lab settings in Jan. 2013 to unmask and resurface HIV reservoirs in infected cells.
"I am almost certain that we will be successful in activating HIV from the reservoirs. The challenge will be getting the patients' immune system to recognise the virus and destroy it. This depends on the strength and sensitivity of individual immune systems, as well as how large a proportion of the hidden HIV is unmasked," Dr Sogaard said according to the Independent.
Fifteen patients are planned to participate in the clinical trials and successful result will bring the trials to a wider scale.
Science Behind a Promising Cure
According to Dr Sogaard, a cure doesn't mean that it works like a preventative vaccine and their technique is designed to resurface the HIV reservoirs hidden inside infected cells.
HIV can hide dormant inside host cells for indefinite period of time and may cause several effects to many organ systems. This trait of the virus made antiretroviral drugs ineffective to eliminate it permanently even if the patient has been faithful in years of use and if medication stopped, HIV will become active then reproduce more copies that causes symptoms to reappear in just two weeks.
Dr Sogaard and his team of scientists are engaging on a unique strategy to unmask the reservoir then forces it to resurface so that the body's natural immune system can kill the viruses. Since it will utilise the natural defence mechanism of the human body, elimination of the virus may be affected by factors such as:
1. Amount of viral load
2. Strength and resilience of the immune system
3. Age defines the strength of the immune system
4. Sensitivity of the body against pathogens
5. Influence by other diseases such as cancers
In lab settings, the technique proved successful results which awarded the scientists more funds to continue research and development, and undergo clinical trials in human settings. If successful, patients will get freedom from the virus and the need to take anti-HIV medication forever.
The technique involves the use of HDAC inhibitors which currently used for treating cancer, to force HIV inside host cells to resurface. Danish researchers are using a specific and powerful type of HDAC inhibitor against the virus.