According to a recent study, a given percentage of HIV patients could attain a “functional cure,” though isolation of the virus into remote human genome parts where it can’t replicate.
Treatment of HIV has been a challenge for a long time with the only known cure that offers long term remission being bone marrow transplants that have been successful in two people. However, this is a risky and expensive procedure that is not a realistic option for the more than 38 million infected people globally.
Brazilian man cleared HIV infection
According to reports that surfaced last month, a Brazilian man might have managed to clear HIV infection through antiretroviral drugs and nicotinamide. The man used the combination in routing out the HIV lingering in the human genome reservoir. Despite this positive development, some researchers are still skeptical of the preliminary findings stating that it could be too early to tell if the man had cleared the infection.
As per the study published in Nature on Wednesday, researchers from MIT, Harvard, and the Ragon Institute of MGH, among other discussed on the possibility of using next-gen sequencing to demonstrate that 0.5% of the HIV infected patients could control the replication of the virus without even the use of drugs or bone marrow transplant.
Research establishes some patients can stifle the HIV
The small section of patients called “elite Controllers” could stifle the virus in what researchers have referred to as “gene desert.” According to Ragon Institute researcher and the senior author of the study Dr. Xu Yu, the powerful immune system of “elite controllers” can hide the virus in remote parts in the human genome away from the human genes used in the production of proteins. Yu added that HIV usually uses the human mechanism to replicate themselves
Sometimes patients take antiretroviral drugs for up to 20 years, but with this latest sequencing technology, patients can be analyzed to ascertain their viral profiles and establish if they exhibit similarities as elite controllers. This can therefore help them stop treatment and thus lead healthy lives.