Scientists on brink of a cure for HIV?
London: A breakthrough for HIV may come "within months", claim Danish researchers, who are testing a new and cheaper technique to strip the deadly virus from human DNA and destroy it permanently.
Scientists are expecting results to show that "finding a mass-distributable and affordable cure to HIV is possible".
They are conducting clinical trials to test a "novel strategy" in which the HIV virus is stripped from human DNA and destroyed by the immune system, `The Telegraph` reported.
The development would represent a dramatic step forward in attempts to find a cure for the virus, which causes AIDS.
Scientists are currently conducting human trials on their treatment, in the hope of proving that it is effective. The treatment has already been found to work in laboratory tests.
The technique involves releasing the HIV virus from "reservoirs" it forms in DNA cells, bringing it to the surface of the cells, the report said.
As it comes to the surface, the body`s natural immune system can kill the virus by being boosted by a "vaccine".
In vitro studies of the new technique proved so successful that in January, the Danish Research Council awarded the team 1.5 million pounds to pursue their study in clinical trials with human subjects.
These findings are now under way, and according to Dr Sogaard, the early signs are "promising".
"I am almost certain that we will be successful in releasing the reservoirs of HIV," Dr Ole Sogaard, a senior researcher at the Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark who is part of the research team, said.
"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," said Sogaard.
As many as fifteen patients are currently taking part in the trials, and if they are found to have successfully been cured of HIV, the "cure" will be tested on a wider scale.
Sogaard stressed that a cure is not the same as a preventative vaccine, and that raising awareness of unsafe behaviour, including unprotected sex and sharing needles, remains of paramount importance in combating HIV.
Finding a cure would free a patient from the need to take continuous HIV medication, and save health services billions.