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Toward an HIV Cure: Overview and Latest Strategies

November 3, 2012

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Additional Cure Strategies

Eron pointed out other cure strategies currently being worked on, including genetic modification of CD4+ cells to limit or stop HIV replication. In particular, using a zinc finger nuclease to artificially disrupt the CCR5 receptor on CD4+ cells in an effort to make them resistant to HIV infection. "That's been done by a company called Sangamo and multiple investigators. The issue is they've never tried to do this in stem cells. They've only done it in peripheral CD4+ cells. I think to effect a cure, you have to do it in stem cells," Eron said.

He also noted two other strategies. "Perhaps there's specific activation of HIV-infected cells using targeted nanoparticles," Eron offered; he said researchers were working on that idea. "There may be some cytokines like interleukin-7 (IL-7) and interleukin-16 (IL-16) that could be given with [antiretroviral therapy] intensification to effect a cure," he added. "There are other ways to go forward, but we've a long way to go."


Treatment During Acute Infection

While not technically a cure, patients who start treatment immediately after becoming infected show a better response to HIV. Notably, a group of patients in France known as the Visconti cohort showed an ability to control HIV without treatment, much like elite controllers, Eron said. This was after they started treatment within 10 weeks of infection and stayed on treatment for an average of three years.

These patients present an interesting alternate road to a potential cure, Eron said. "Perhaps patients treated during acute infection might be the opportune patients to at least be the first ones to be cured. The reasons I say that is most individuals are infected with a single variant, and if you put them on therapy soon enough, that single variant does not get a chance to diversify."

Eron continued: "CTL [cytotoxic T cell] responses early are robust and could be preserved, as might be CD4+ cell responses. Persistent activations may be less. The size of the reservoir is smaller. We have seen that. So it's possible that these people treated during acute infection and suppressed for a long period might be ideal candidates for a cure soon."

Warren Tong is the research editor for and

Follow Warren on Twitter: @WarrenAtTheBody.

Copyright © 2012 Remedy Health Media, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Reader Comments:

Comment by: MineMan (Texas) Wed., Oct. 1, 2014 at 4:55 pm UTC
It is definitely time to update the articles being archived. There is much new information garnered from more recent clinical trial results.
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Comment by: Jennifer B. (Granite Bay CA. 95746) Sat., Sep. 21, 2013 at 11:37 pm UTC
My brother has been HIV positive for over 25 years and has taken treatments I would think his CD4+cells and CCR5 receptor would be an interesting study. Why has he survived when all his friends that were diagnosed at the same time died. My husband told him to take half the amount of medicine that was prescribed initially .

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Comment by: luis (argentina) Tue., May. 14, 2013 at 6:15 pm UTC
sadly i believe we are far far away from finding a cure if they ever find one
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Comment by: Andrew (UK) Wed., Dec. 12, 2012 at 1:32 pm UTC
Been on treatment for a year now.
Diagnosed very late with cd4 of 121 and masive viral load.
Get told by clinic i have nothing to worry about and i will see old bones.
After reading this it is obvious they are not telling the truth and HIV is going to cut my life to an early grave.
Very dissapointed now.
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: teddy (sweden) Wed., Jun. 26, 2013 at 5:26 pm UTC
No you have many years to live bellive me. Work out and eat helthy my friend. Dont bellive every thing u read. Trust your clinik

Comment by: Mkunde Mlay (Tanzania) Mon., Nov. 26, 2012 at 8:02 am UTC
Very good overview but in developing world we do have a very long way to go.
Example most of our patients starts treatments while in a very late stage that with CD4+ less than 350. And this is due to the social economical factors that governments can not pay for very high cost of drug denying most of infected population the benefits of early treatment and hence the "cure" in the future.
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Comment by: Ronald T. (South African ) Thu., Nov. 22, 2012 at 2:15 am UTC
I believe one of good days we will win this war and people will leave without fear of HIV. Am young man who is leaving with HIV for a year now i start my treatment early and i believe the coming generation will be free from HIV keep the good work ask God to lead you and He will show u the way
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Comment by: Claudine M G (Lynn, MA) Sat., Nov. 17, 2012 at 2:35 pm UTC
I am Claudine G. a provider case manager, advocate, liaison, Respiratory therapist, Community health Educator to name a few. Working with the HIV population from Florida end up in Boston MA. Thanks for the article I learned so much from the Stem cells to clone. What a is making us run like ants. Bon: I really would like to know what is our plan for the older HIV clients, tenants, in their 60's are we prepared yet to educate the nursing facilities what have we done who is going to do it and when. I am concern about few of the clients that I served and is still serving.... I would like one day to meet my President and seriously talk about this issues. Since college I worked with this population. We are still working hard to adjust what HIV is doing among us. We have a new population the young homosexual and the young lesbian. Don't think the substance abuse is light...don't blame is on divorce family only, we have to bring a health clinic in every high school in the State I am talking for the State of MA. This is serious in MA...We have Heath Centers few places the heavy duty hospitals need to assist in this new development....We need more money and management of that Mula $ My taxes cannot be free for some. We need to take care of the young one or we are going to swim in the ocean deeper than what we had in the 80's because we will have a package and heavy duty package the young one are complex...they have different issues that they can even explain yet the pain is too much to handle
brief examples:
A young female in high school
had a big issue at home with her single mother who is working 3 jobs to pay her rent of couple thousands.
young needs someone to talk to about sex
not too friendly with sister because her best friend lover is a female.
mother not home young girl left for a couple days to try having sex with an older man. Lover did find out exploded...young female went to a clinic near STI. young female drunk before she went home now homeless.
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: Mathew (Birmingham Alabama) Fri., Dec. 27, 2013 at 4:40 am UTC
You and Ronald T. seem to me to be the same person. Unless you somehow share the exact same manner of speech as someone from South Africa. Or if you originally are from South Africa, and came to Florida later. I say this because you skip the same kind of words that he does. Reading the two comments back to back sounded identical. Unless its just some weird coincidence that you could be educated and raised in America and still make basic speech mistakes, then one of you is a sock puppet. What you would gain from this is beyond me, and it is quitr biizarre.

Comment by: Indian (India) Wed., Nov. 7, 2012 at 11:33 am UTC
Somehow, I was depressed by the article - it did not give hope & was too pragmatic. why can't we come up with mixed cure strategies or cocktail-cure approach that makes life a bit better. That can be an interim approach till a cure is found - isn't it?
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Comment by: marigold b. (guyana south america) Tue., Nov. 6, 2012 at 8:55 am UTC
i want a cure very badly
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Please note: Knowledge about HIV changes rapidly. Note the date of this summary's publication, and before treating patients or employing any therapies described in these materials, verify all information independently. If you are a patient, please consult a doctor or other medical professional before acting on any of the information presented in this summary. For a complete listing of our most recent conference coverage, click here.


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