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The Exciting Route to HIV Curative Strategies

Health and Fitness

(Free Press Release) HIV chronically infects 34 million people worldwide. Although major advances have been achieved over the past 15 years with antiretroviral therapy, there is no definite cure. Recent developments in HIV persistence knowledge allow to regain hope and draw some potential strategies towards a cure.

The Exciting Route to HIV Curative Strategies


Toulon, France, June 16, 2011 -- On December 8, 2010 it was like thunder: for the first time after 3 decades since the start of the HIV pandemic one patient was considered to be cured. We have to admit that, until very recently, scientists had indeed banished the hope of an HIV cure, and the virus was quite considered as a life-long Trojan horse. This was in part the result of excessive optimism developed initially when, 15 years ago, combined antiretroviral therapy was discovered: estimates, ignoring the existence of long-lived HIV reservoirs, were that HIV could be eradicated just after 3 years of therapy…

The “Berlin patient” who was cured last year was, however, a very special case that will probably not be reproduced. First, he received extensive chemo and radiation therapies for an allogenic bone marrow transplantation, then the donor had a rare genetic defect on a coreceptor, and finally he received a second bone marrow transplant due to leukemia relapse. But the proof of concept is huge: we now know that HIV can be eradicated, as least under extreme conditions.
There are two potential sorts of HIV cures on the horizon: a “functional cure” where HIV genetic material is still detected in the host but without replication and transmission in the absence of antiretroviral therapy, and a “sterilizing cure” where HIV is gone.

To achieve these goals, we have different potential approaches. The latent HIV reservoir can be awakened by severaly agents and progressively depleted. A last killing phase could use other specific weapons, like immuno-toxins. On the other hand, the micro environment allowing HIV persistence can also be progressively modified so that persistence is no longer the rule. Such “sabotage” strategies are ongoing using gene therapy to rebuild an immune system resistant to HIV.

All these discoveries will be extensively reviewed during the forthcoming ISHEID (International Symposium on HIV & Emerging Infectious Diseases). “We have dedicated an entire day of the conference to address HIV curative strategies” told Alain Lafeuillade, chair of the ISHEID. “We want ISHEID attendees to be in the frontline of these major breakthroughs”, he added.

The ISHEID meeting will welcome more than 1,200 international scientists, doctors and activists in Marseille, France, May 23 – 25, 2012.

Alain Lafeuillade
General Hospital
1208 avenue Colonel Picot
83056 Toulon, France
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The Exciting Route to HIV Curative Strategies

Source: Press Release



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