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Cure

A cure for HIV infection is one of the ultimate long-term goals of research today. The science is expanding, raising hopes and challenges.

The term “cure” refers to strategies that would eliminate HIV from a person’s body, or permanently control the virus and render it unable to cause disease. A range of strategies being discussed today.

A “sterilizing” cure would completely eliminate the virus.

A “functional” cure would suppress HIV viral load, keeping it below the level of detection without the use of antiretrovirals for treatment (ART). The virus would not be eliminated from the body but would be effectively controlled and prevented from causing any illness.

“Remission” refers to undetectable virus that may or may not return because a low level of latent virus.

Researchers are still trying to define these terms and which strategies will work. Although some possible cases of functional cures have been reported, it takes time to be certain that HIV can no longer cause disease—because even very low levels of virus can increase the risk of illness and ultimately lead to AIDS.

Some cure strategies under investigation are carry potential risks. Communicating the risks and benefits of cure strategies to potential trial participants will be an important part of any cure clinical trial. Interrupting treatment will be an important element in cure trials in order to test viral rebound. No standardized guidelines exist yet for such “treatment interruptions” to minimize risks for cure trial participants. Finally, cure strategies may look different for men, women and children—biological differences between sexes, and differences in adult versus pediatric immune systems mean a “one size fits all” approach to a cure is unlikely. AVAC is working with partners to track, translate and accelerate cure research.

What We're Reading

A CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology that has shown promise in clearing HIV from mice is headed into human testing. Excision BioTherapeutics will usher the CRISPR-based therapy EBT-101 into clinical trials after the FDA cleared an investigational new drug application, according to the company’s press release.

September 17, 2021
Fierce Biotech

Starting antiretroviral therapy very early, before extensive immune system damage occurs, improves the prospects for a functional cure, according to research presented at the 11th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science (IAS 2021). But most people with HIV are diagnosed and start treatment later, during chronic infection. Another study found that a combination of antibodies that block interleukin 10 and PD-1 may help control the virus without antiretrovirals even at this later stage.

August 11, 2021
Antibody Related Research, Cure
POZ
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