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TheBodyPRO.com covers IAS 2013

Journeying Toward a Cure for HIV: Now Comes the Hard Part

July 1, 2013

We may be approaching the final scientific obstacles to the discovery of an HIV cure, but the next steps in the journey are likely to be the most challenging, according to Steven Deeks, M.D.

Deeks, a professor of medicine at the University of California-San Francisco, spoke at a press conference prior to his keynote speech during the opening session of the 7th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In his talk, Deeks highlighted the major questions he felt must be answered to ensure success with future HIV treatments and the search for an HIV cure.

Deeks pointed out that the focus in HIV research has shifted from the acute aspects of the disease to the chronic problems faced by HIV-infected individuals on long-term treatment. "Many of these problems that we're dealing with -- persistent inflammation, excess heart disease, overburdened health care systems, as well as the really big problem of not being able to afford long-term therapy -- could all be addressed with a cure," he said.

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He compared our current search for a cure to the early search for effective HIV treatments in 1987. Back then, the focus was on eliminating virus in the blood. Now the focus is on eliminating virus hidden in reservoirs within the human body. The latent HIV within reservoirs is considered by many researchers to be the last hurdle toward HIV eradication, and we're now beginning to see some promising results, Deeks noted. "You're going to hear at this meeting, certain types of drugs, if you give it to a person on long-term therapy, you can affect the kind of virus that we need to get rid of to cure people," he said. "We're not going to cure anyone with it, but you're actually now really beginning to show that it's possible."

However, Deeks also cautioned that the journey may be much more difficult this time around than it was when HIV medications were first developed. "Going after the virus in 1987 [was] a lot easier than going after the latent virus. That was a free virus that floated around, had targets to go after," he said. "What we're going after now is hidden in cells, and we're going to have to somehow get in there without causing harm to the patient and that's a challenge."

Warren Tong is the research editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.

Follow Warren on Twitter: @WarrenAtTheBody.


Copyright © 2013 Remedy Health Media, LLC. All rights reserved.



 


Reader Comments:

Comment by: Blocks (South africa) Sun., Oct. 27, 2013 at 1:45 am EDT
Going to church can change one s life
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Comment by: Dr Chris (London) Wed., Aug. 7, 2013 at 11:55 pm EDT
"What we're going after now is hidden in cells, and we're going to have to somehow get in there without causing harm to the patient and that's a challenge."

Yes, hidden in cells. Unless you kills these cells, the virus will never be eradicated. Once you kills these cells, the patient is almost certain to be dead!
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Comment by: angmoniel (Metro Manila) Sat., Aug. 3, 2013 at 11:55 pm EDT
However, Deeks also cautioned that the journey may be much more difficult this time around than it was when HIV medications were first developed. "Going after the virus in 1987 [was] a lot easier than going after the latent virus. That was a free virus that floated around, had targets to go after," he said. "What we're going after now is hidden in cells, and we're going to have to somehow get in there without causing harm to the patient and that's a challenge."


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Comment by: Anonymous Thu., Jul. 25, 2013 at 10:03 am EDT
Rick.

Cute with marrow bone transplantant is not alternative to haart. Because you'll need to take immunosuppressive instead. Because otherwise your new donor blood cells will attack your body.
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Comment by: rick (usa) Mon., Jul. 15, 2013 at 10:31 am EDT
there are already cures out there. what the researchers need to focus on is how to make the Brown Surgery more affordable and less risky. It is an effective cure the man has been off his meds for 7 years and no signs of the virus in his body.
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Comment by: vikram (india,delhi) Thu., Jul. 11, 2013 at 5:29 am EDT
When,in which year, it would be.possible of hiv cure??
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Comment by: Tom (Illinois) Sun., Jul. 7, 2013 at 7:11 am EDT
Clearing HIV may be harder than suppressing HIV, but we have better tools and now know that we must treat HIV+ patients while their immune systems are still functional. That means using therapeutic vaccines along with fully suppressive agents that reach into the reservoirs where HIV hides.

Germans and French doctors have a clue. Why highly funded American researchers seem so clueless is likely a side-effect of capitalism.

AZT has generated $20 - $40 Billion dollars of profit (so far). The initial budget of the American AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) was $100 Million and quickly grew to over $300 Million. Had the US not given away the tax payer owned patent on AZT to Big Pharma corporations, its profits could have paid for 100 years of clinical trials. Political insiders are getting filthy rich off HIV while people in-need are getting "free market capitalism". The Wiki-leaks communications/cables tell us that story writ large. So called "Free Trade" agreements are largely about using HIV as a terrorizing lever, that provides help in fighting HIV ONLY IF the other countries provide the 100-to-1 profit margin on the drugs that they learned how to manufacture once foreign clinical trials showed the drugs to be effective against foreign strains of HIV in foreign lands (Africa, Asia, etc).

American researchers seem less concerned about curing HIV, and more concerned about becoming rich off the pandemic.
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Comment by: MATSTRAZZ (BOSTON MA USA) Thu., Jul. 4, 2013 at 5:21 pm EDT
THE problem is many of us will not last TEN MORE YRS. The dying is going to start again. More than a million people with HIV, MOST are not in TREATMENT. BACK when AZT came out I did not wait, started to take it when my CD4 CELLS were just above 500. OVER 25 yrs ago. NOW they are telling people to start when their T CELLS are under 500. PEOPLE SHOULD START MEDS AS SOON AS THEY TEST POSITIVE. WONDER if its going to be another decade or two, before that happens.
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Comment by: Day (Los Angeles,CA ) Tue., Jul. 2, 2013 at 9:44 am EDT
I think it will be very hard to find a cure but is possible!!! the same way we have better treatments compare to the 80/90's, before an hiv + woman couldn't have healthy babies, now a person with undetectable virus and doing good on treatment the life expectancy is near to normal or normal to me (73 years old)so if we made that happen of course the cure Is possible in my opinion, maybe it will take some time but it will be there, I just pray that I can stay healthy long enough to see this happening.
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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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