Friday, November 11, 2016

Study Reveals New Hope For An HIV Cure

A new experimental HIV vaccine, when combined with a compound that stimulates a person’s immune system, demonstrated potential for a path to curing HIV. The small study, involving rhesus monkeys who had the monkey equivalent of HIV, revealed that this novel combination was effective at suppressing the virus to undetectable levels in a few of the subjects, without the need for antiretroviral treatments. 

If the combination of the HIV vaccine and immune system compound is shown to be effective in people, it could mean one step toward a cure for HIV, said lead investigator Dan Barouch, director for the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School.  These days, people with HIV can thrive thanks to antiretroviral therapy, a treatment that keeps the levels of virus low so that people can live healthy lives and decrease their risk of passing it on to others. 

The only problem with ART? It’s a treatment, not a cure. It has to be taken every day in order to work, and if you stop taking the medication, the virus can bounce back to dangerous levels. This is because, while ART can suppress HIV to undetectable levels, the virus can actually hide in reservoirs throughout the body, waiting for an opportunity to return in force. One way to cure HIV, the thinking goes, would be to suppress HIV levels without the need for ART ― what Barouch called a “functional” cure... read more: