Danish Researchers Announce that They're on the Verge of an HIV Cure
Researchers in Denmark have announced that they believe that they are on the brink for a cure for HIV. Unlike gene therapy, which has been promising, this treatment should be easier to mass distribute and more affordable.
According to the Telegraph, researchers from Aarhus University are developing a new method to combat HIV. The treatment releases the virus from the "reservoirs" that it cultivates in cells' DNA. As a result, the virus swims to the cells' surface. There, it is killed by a vaccine that readies the immune system for the task.
The treatment has been wildly successful in the laboratory, where researchers have been performing the experiment on human cells. Though the scientists say that the results do not mean that the technique will work in the human body, the Danish government has provided the research team with the funding needed to perform a trial in humans. The study has just begun in human subjects, and the scientists report that the results are promising.
Dr. Ole Søgaard, a senior researcher at the university, said to the press, "I am almost certain that we will be successful in releasing the reservoirs of HIV. The challenge will be getting the patients' immune system to recognize the virus and destroy it. This depends on the strength and sensitivity of individual immune systems."
So far, the study has 15 participants. If the trial proves to be a success, it will be expanded to include a larger sample size.
Medical Daily reports that the study's success comes on the heels of an announcement that a study performed in the United States was disbanded because the treatment had little results. The trial, which was conducted with over 2,000 participants in 19 cities, consisted of two vaccinations: one, the genetically modified HIV virus, and the other, the same virus encased a disabled cold virus. The trial had started in 2009.
The study in Denmark is a marked departure from other approaches that centers on gene therapy, which seeks to make the patient's immune system resistant to HIV. These treatments are prohibitively expensive for much of the world's population with the disease.