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Queensland scientist develops treatment to 'keep HIV in check'

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Here's the link and the short article --

A Queensland scientist may have developed a potential new treatment for HIV to stop the virus progressing to AIDS. Queensland Institute of Medical Research associate professor David Harrich modified a protein found in HIV that stopped the virus replicating in laboratory tests.

Professor Harrich said the approach, published in the journal Human Gene Therapy, was not a cure for HIV but would ensure the virus remained dormant. ‘‘It would keep the virus in check,’’ he told AAP.

‘‘The virus might infect a cell but it wouldn’t spread. ‘‘With a treatment like this, you would maintain a healthy immune system.’’ Prof Harrich said the modified protein stopped HIV replicating in three different ways. Unlike existing antiretroviral drugs, the approach used gene therapy.

Pre-clinical tests showed the technique was not toxic to human cells and offered protection from HIV spreading with a single treatment, he said. However, any treatment using this method would be years away.  Prof Harrich said the approach needed to go through several steps of animal testing before it could be trialled in humans.

However, the approach using a single treatment could be more economical. Currently, HIV sufferers face a significant financial burden because treatment requires taking antiretroviral drugs for the rest of their lives. Antiretroviral drugs are unable to completely eradicate the virus because it burrows deeply into the DNA of immune cells, especially in the lymph nodes or gut, where it gets stuck and goes to sleep.
Several approaches are under way around the world to cure HIV and a global strategy to find a cure was unveiled in Washington last year. One approach is being pioneered in Victoria by The Alfred hospital’s Infectious Diseases Unit director, Professor Sharon Lewin.
Prof Lewin, who is also co-head of virology at Melbourne’s Burnet Institute, is testing the ability of an existing drug to ‘‘wake up’’ the virus in cells where it hides and lies dormant. The theory is the reawakened virus would kill the cell it inhabits, thereby self-destructing.
Another potential cure under investigation internationally involves boosting the immune system to mimic a group of HIV patients who can control the virus naturally. This group of patients, known as ‘‘elite controllers’’, have low levels of the virus which don’t require drug treatment.

Here's another article about this and a 7 minute video interview with the lead researcher.  The researcher points out that clinical trials in humans are 5-10 years away :(

Scientists from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research say they have made a breakthrough that could lead to a potential cure for AIDS.

Associate Professor David Harrich says they have discovered how to modify a protein in HIV so that, instead of replicating, it protects against the infection.

"I consider that this is fighting fire with fire," he said.

"What we've actually done is taken a normal virus protein that the virus needs to grow, and we've changed this protein, so that instead of assisting the virus, it actually impedes virus replication and does it quite strongly."

Associate Professor Harrich says the modified protein cannot cure HIV but it has protected human cells from AIDS in the laboratory.

"This therapy is potentially a cure for AIDS," he said.

"So it's not a cure for HIV infection, but it potentially could end the disease.

"So this protein present in immune cells would help to maintain a healthy immune system so patients can handle normal infections."

More than 30,000 people have been diagnosed with HIV in Australia.

If clinical trials are successful, one treatment could be effective enough to replace the multiple therapies they currently need.

"Drug therapy targets individual enzymes or proteins and they have one drug, one protein," Associate Professor Harrich said.

"They have to take two or three drugs, so this would be a single agent that essentially has the same effect.

"So in that respect, this is a world-first agent that's able to stop HIV with a single agent at multiple steps of the virus lifecycle."

He says the new treatment has the potential to make big improvements in the quality of life for those carrying HIV.

"I think what people are looking for is basically a means to go on and live happy and productive lives with as little intrusion as possible," he said.

"You either have to eliminate the virus infection or alternatively you have to eliminate the disease process and that's what this could do, potentially for a very long time."

Professor Harrich says animal trials are due to start this year and early indications are positive.

"This particular study is going to have some hurdles to jump through, but so far every test that we have put this protein through has passed with flying colours," he said.

"This particular year we're moving this into animal models, and based on the preliminary data we have done we expect that this will proceed really quickly."

The research is published in the journal Human Gene Therapy.

"This therapy is potentially a cure for AIDS"

"So its not a cure for HIV....."



--- Quote from: buginme2 on January 17, 2013, 01:25:13 PM ---"This therapy is potentially a cure for AIDS"

"So its not a cure for HIV....."


--- End quote ---

Pretty clear they meant they believe this would prevent the progression to AIDS, although you would remain's what's referred to as a "functional" cure.

(Not that I'm terribly excited by this, mind you, there's been a ton of crap that has worked in the lab, but not in vivo...I'll get excited when they test it on actual people and it works....)

 ::) I have discovered a way that I might become the Sultan of Brunei, though human trials won't start before 5-10 years from now.  :o


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