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Breakthrough HIV Treatment May Have Cured British Man

Oct 04, 2016 05:24 AM EDT

A 44-year-old British man could become the first to be cured of HIV after receiving new therapy.

The groundbreaking treatment was developed by five of Britain's top universities, Oxford University, King's College London, Imperial College, University College London and Cambridge University. The man was one of the 50 people who completed the trial, and the results of his treatment were encouraging, the Sunday Times reports.

Active HIV cells or T-cells enable the virus to spread and infect more cells. While antiretroviral therapy could target active cells, it could not locate the inactive ones and so the virus remains in the body. The experimental research involves a drug that could reactivate dormant HIV cells so they could be targeted by antiretroviral therapy.

Using a drug known as Vorinostat, the dormant T-cells are woken up, and through antiretroviral therapy and a vaccine, the body's immune system is able to recognize the virus and attack it--a process that has been dubbed "kick and kill," The Guardian reports.

After trials, the first person to complete the new treatment showed no signs of the virus in his blood. However, doctors said the results do not necessarily mean the patient is cured of HIV. Experts will continue to monitor the patient for five years and will be continuously given antiretroviral therapy. It would take months before scientists could determine if the virus is completely removed and even longer to find out if the patient is cured, IBTimes UK reports.

Timothy Ray Brown is considered the first person to be cured of HIV. Brown, an American, was diagnosed with HIV in 1995 while studying in Berlin. He received treatment in Germany, which earned him the nickname "the Berlin Patient."

According to the UNAIDS, about 36.7 million people in the world are living with HIV by the end of 2015. In the U.S. alone, 1.2 million people are living with HIV, and 1 in 8 affected people are not aware of their condition.

READ MORE:
HIV Update: Consistent Intake of Antiretroviral Drugs Could Prevent HIV Transmission
HIV-Related Retroviruses Date Back 60 Million Years Ago
HIV Cure Update: New HIV Drug Prevents Maturity of HIV Cells

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