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Early signs for HIV cure are 'promising' as Danish scientists begin test on humans Clinical trials are underway in Denmark, where researchers at the Aarhus University Hospital are using a 'novel approach' to fight the HIV virus. Danish scientists claim theya€™re on the brink of a a€?promisinga€? breakthrough to cure HIV. Researchers at the Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark said they're now conducting clinical trials on humans using a a€?novel strategya€? that has worked in lab tests, Londona€™s The Telegraph reported. The Danish trial uses a treatment that forces the HIV virus from so-called reservoirs it forms in DNA cells, bringing the virus to the surface, according to The Telegraph.
Once the virus is exposed, the bodya€™s natural immune system can destroy it with the help of a vaccine. While the procedure appeared to work using human cells in a lab, whether it will prove successful in a human body remains to be seen, said Dr.
Fifteen people have been signed up for the trial, which was awarded a new round of funding from the Danish Research Council worth about $2.1 million.
Similar research is being conducted in Britain through a collaboration of five universities focusing on people who only recently were diagnosed with HIV. Sogaard said that the research in Denmark would be a cure for those already infected, but wouldna€™t prevent HIV or AIDS.
Finding a cure a€” one that is also widely accessible and affordable to the public a€” took a hit in the United States when experimental shots failed to reduce the amount of the AIDS virus in the blood, the National Institutes of Health said. Ita€™s a strategy known as a€?prime-boost.a€? A DNA-based vaccine made with genetically engineered HIV material is given to prime the immune system to attack the AIDS virus. The idea: Train immune cells known as T cells to spot and attack the very earliest HIV-infected cells in someonea€™s body. A safety review last week found that slightly more study participants who had received the vaccine later became infected with HIV. When researchers examined only participants diagnosed after being in the study for at least 28 weeks a€” long enough for the shots to have done their job a€” there were 27 HIV infections among the vaccinated and 21 among the placebo recipients. The NIH said Thursday that it is stopping vaccinations in the study, known as HVTN 505, but that researchers will continue to study the volunteersa€™ health. Both approaches need continued research funding, said Mitchell Warren of the international AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition. The HIV vaccine directly attacks the immune system, turning the cells that are supposed to be fighting it into virus factories. In response to the challenge of hitting a moving target with your best players out injured and no training manual, scientists have learnt some clever tricks. Scientists at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) are now taking this idea even further, using cutting edge technology to create a ‘mosaic’ HIV virus.
Another breakthrough came with the discovery of special antibodies that can fight HIV – but are made in the body much too slowly to defend against an HIV attack.
And just in case this isn’t clever enough for you, scientists at IAVI are hoping to take this one step further.
In four paragraphs, I’ve summed up 30 years of expensive, complicated, two steps forward-one step back work, carried out by some of the smartest people on the planet.
It’s going to be hard, and it’s going to need lots of money, and expertise, and commitment by those who can deliver those two things. Every year, 1.5 million people die from AIDS, after the HIV virus has damaged their immune system so much that they can’t defend themselves against even common illnesses.

It’s not all bad news – the amazing work of the Global Fund, combined with new drugs to treat HIV and increased access to cheaper, generic versions of such drugs, has slowed the growth of this epidemic. 10 warning signs of Alzheimer's: Memory loss that disrupts daily life One of the most common signs of Alzheimer's is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information. Fibromyalgia (FMS) is a neurological condition characterized by a variety of symptoms, but most pertinently, by widespread pain in “tender points” throughout the body. The 3- to 4-inch incision resulting from thyroid surgery should heal within a couple of weeks. AIDS Research Alliance conducts research within every domain of HIV science—from Basic science, to Prevention, Treatment, Ancillary Control, and Cure research. Nemazee and his team went on to discover that cells with the potential to produce 4E10 antibodies trigger several natural safeguards that shut down the production of any antibody that might recognize and destroy the body’s own tissues. 4E10 especially interests HIV researchers because the antibody recognizes and binds to gp41 on the surface of many different strains of the virus, not just the one strain with which the patient was most recently infected.
In humans, HIV slowly destroys the immune system, leading to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). In several ongoing studies, the TSRI team and others are working out how to make a vaccine that stimulates the production of 4E10, b12 and other broadly neutralizing anti-HIV antibodies.
Despite this new concern, there is still hope for 4E10’s role in HIV vaccine development. I'm a postdoc working on the prevention of fibrosis in Crohn's disease, IBD, and intestinal parasite infection.
This depends on the strength and sensitivity of individual immune systems,a€? Sogaard told The Telegraph. Half received dummy shots, and half received a two-part experimental vaccine developed by the NIH. Then a different vaccine, encasing the same material inside a shell made of a disabled cold virus, acts as a booster shot to strengthen that response.
The hope was that the vaccine could either prevent HIV infection, or help those infected anyway to fight it. A 2009 study in Thailand is the only one ever to show a modest success, using a somewhat different prime-boost approach. Leading scientists have dedicated their careers to breaking this enigma – some of them in the UK, some in Africa where their work is blazing a trail for other African scientists.
Once a single virus particle enters the bloodstream, it quickly duplicates and mutates into a multitude of slightly different versions, so any medicine has to be able to kill many different versions of the virus. One is to inject a non-dangerous virus to get the immune system going, then follow up with a bit of an HIV virus, to convince the white blood cells to prepare in advance for a full scale HIV attack. This patchwork quilt will contain all the bits of the HIV virus that never change, no matter how many times it mutates, stitched together – so that your immune system is covered, whichever strain of the disease attacks. These can be injected straight into a healthy body, or even better, used for reverse engineering. Experiments are ongoing to re-write the genetic code of the non-dangerous virus mentioned above to include instructions for producing these special antibodies. As Bill Gates said earlier this year, we can be optimistic that an HIV vaccine – and a cure – will be found within the next 15 years, but let’s not pretend it’s going to be easy. The length of time and upfront costs needed by HIV vaccine R&D can work as barriers to big pharmaceutical companies getting involved.

An HIV vaccine could save $95bn in treatment costs alone in its first ten years, and expand poor countries’ economies by over $15,000 per life saved – all for a one off outlay of less than $1bn. AIDS has killed half of the 78 million people it has infected in the last four decades, and is now the leading killer of adult women in sub-Saharan Africa. But despite this huge achievement, there are still 2.1 million new HIV infections every year.
This finding could complicate the development of HIV vaccines designed to elicit this protective antibody, called 4E10, and others like it, as doing so might be dangerous or inefficient. They concluded that 4E10 cross-reacts with host tissues in this way, prompting its removal before it can do any harm – or good. If a vaccine could be made to specifically and safely stimulate 4E10-like production, recipients would likely be protected against multiple HIV strains.
However, this latest study indicates that this approach might be complicated by unwanted self-reactivity. According to Nemazee, 4E10 may be a fluke, cropping up in an HIV patient who was also prone to autoimmune diseases.
Newer research suggests another approach a€” to try creating powerful antibodies that could work a step earlier than the T-cell attack, before HIV gets inside the first cell. This method led to a breakthrough back in 2009 – a 31% reduction in HIV infection in volunteers tested in Thailand. That is, scientists are using the ‘key’ shape on these antibodies to work out what the matching ‘lock’ shape on the HIV virus looks like. So when the non-dangerous virus is injected, it will turn cells in the body into antibody factories, ready to fight off HIV should it rear its ugly head.
We need governments who understand the long-term public and economic value to get behind the work, no matter how long it takes. To put this cost in perspective, we spend $2bn globally every year on hair loss surgery (again, statistic courtesy of Bill Gates). Overall, there were 41 HIV infections in the vaccinated group and 30 among placebo recipients. This deprives researchers of a common method of designing a vaccine: copying the natural response of the body’s immune system. They hope to then create safe copies of these ‘lock’ shaped bits, which will trigger the production of antibodies when injected into the body, protecting against HIV infection. The UK Government has helped fund the work in the past, but we need them to keep going, and keep their eyes on the prize.
This HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, let’s spare a thought for the scientists working to get us there, and then spend a minute to tell our governments why it is worth paying for their work. But when 4E10 antibodies clog up gp41, the virus is neutralized and host cells are protected. While treatments developed in the past decade can keep the virus in check for many years, there is no vaccine and there is no cure.

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