A two-year old baby and fourteen adults infected with HIV are said to have been ‘cured’ after blasts of Antiretroviral drugs (ARV). The baby was said to have been born to a woman with HIV.
The child underwent treatment almost immediately after birth. According to reports, three blasts of ARV was given to the infant and the treatment went on for at least 18 months but the baby was still diagnosed positive of the HIV. Doctors lost contact with the child and mother and treatment was halted.
When the child was brought back to the lab, doctors were astonished to have found out the infant was functionally ‘cured.’ It means that there was no trace of replicating or active virus in the blood. Medical practitioners who were involved in the study believed that the same treatment would also ‘cure’ adult patients with HIV.
Seventy people with HIV were analyzed by Asier Sáez-Cirión, PhD, a professor at Pasteur Institute, and he found 14 patients who were able to stay off of ARV drug regimens without relapsing. These people still have traces of HIV in their blood but the virus remains inactive.
In the case of the child, early detection and intervention may have helped a lot but doctors say it only works for some people. They are still in the process of finding the reason why it is so.
There are also people who are considered as “super-controllers” who have natural resistance to the virus. These people actually have a fault in a gene that prevents the virus from latching on to CCR5 receptors of white blood cells. In Europe, one percent of its population is super-controllers.
There are a lot of researches that focus on modifying the CCR5 receptor in a person. A company called Sangamo Biosciences in California reportedly treated patients by disabling genes that control the production of the CCR5 receptors. Their treatment said to have positive results but they still turn back to ARVs to have the virus in check.
After decades of staying in the dark, HIV patients are now beginning to see a glimmer of hope but the challenge is how to detect the virus as early as possible.