British scientists could be one step closer towards finding a permanent cure for HIV.
A 44-year-old social worker in London appears to be completely free of the virus after undergoing an experimental therapy technique.
The man was first given a vaccine which helped his immune system detect infected cells, and then took Vorinostat, a drug which is normally used in experimental cancer treatment trials.
The Vorinostat then activates dormant infected cells that would normally slip through the net allowing the body’s immune system to detect and kill every last infected cell.
In simple terms what this combination of treatments does is remove the camouflage that allows HIV to remain hidden and then shine a spotlight on it allowing the immune system to clearly identify infected cells and kill them.
The researchers have said that there’s an extremely long way to go before they start throwing parties. For starters this is just one man in a trial that involves 50 people.
All 50 will need to show similar responses to the treatment, and then even if they do they’ll need to be continually tested for the next five years to make sure the virus has been completely eradicated.
That said, this is promising news. For starters this method is essentially a complex and aggressive form of drug therapy, far less invasive and complex as a technique like gene editing.
HIV is a virus which attacks the immune system of the human body, making it harder for us to fight off even the mildest illnesses such as colds or coughs.
There is currently no cure for HIV, however modern treatments allow those infected with it to go on to live a long and healthy life. AIDS is the final stage of the HIV infection, it occurs when the body can no longer fight life-threatening infections. Those who have been diagnosed with HIV early on will not go on to develop AIDS.