British scientists to begin trial of potential HIV cure
London: Scientists from five leading British universities will begin a ground-breaking clinical trial next year to test a possible cure for HIV.
The researchers, led by John Frater of Oxford University and Sarah Fidler of Imperial College, London, hope the trial will show that a cure is feasible, said a press release issued by Imperial College, London.
The scientists said efforts to cure HIV in the past have been thwarted by the virus's ability to lie dormant inside blood cells without being detected.
Thirty-four million people are infected by HIV worldwide. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is highly effective in stopping the virus from reproducing, but it does not eradicate the disease.
The new therapy combines standard antiretroviral drugs with a drug that reactivates dormant HIV, and a vaccine that induces the immune system to destroy the infected cells.
"We know that targeting the HIV reservoir is extremely difficult," Fidler said.
She said their research has led to some very promising results.
"We now have the opportunity to translate that into a possible new treatment, which we hope will be of real benefit to patients," Fidler said.
Fifty patients in the early stages of HIV infection will take part in the trial.
The researchers hope that within months, the hidden HIV in these patients, called the HIV reservoir, will be significantly reduced.
They expect to know the results by 2017.