The actual treatment for the HIV virus has not yet been confirmed. However, extensive research is being carried out to determine the best way to destroy the virus completely without affecting the host’s body health wise. Since the discovery of the virus in the 1980s, the antiretroviral treatment has been used to change the lives of many people. This article will give an insight into the future of HIV therapy.
A few years ago, a Berlin HIV positive patient was cured of the disease after receiving a bone marrow transplant from a naturally resistant person. This transplant led to the complete cure and Timothy Ray, the patient, in this case, has never been on antiretroviral treatment since that day. This, however, has not been the absolute cure since the procedure involved in bone marrow transplant poses a lot of risks to the HIV positive patient. Also, replicating a similar case has not achieved any success. Various improvements have been made on the antiretroviral therapy in order to reduce the dosage. A vaccine for the virus is underway but the actual treatment for the virus has not yet been found.
In a bid to stop the virus from further replicating a similar procedure that is used to control herpes is being used. This is where the ability of the virus to produce more copies of itself is disabled. However, this method does not fully eliminate the virus but its spread is inhibited. In 2017, Abivax Company in France showed the potential of using this method as the absolute cure for the virus. The main idea behind this method is that even the reservoir of the viruses hiding deep within the body cells can fully be exploited hence eliminating the virus completely. The current inventions in the antiretroviral treatment tend to suppress the virus from further forming new viruses. However, it does not involve exploitation of the reservoirs. However, if you stop the treatment, the virus comes back after 10 to 14 days as stated by Abivax CEO. Nonetheless, the ABX464 drug when taken together with antiretroviral medication indicated a decrease of 25 to 50% of the virus reservoirs within a period of 28 days. This drug binds to the Viruses’ RNA hence inhibiting it from reproducing more copies of itself. The company is now on phase to which should have been achieved by the year 2020 where maximum action on the virus reservoirs is aimed to be achieved in the long run as the company prepares for phase 3.
Shock and Kill
This is an approach where the latency-reversing agent that tends to kick the viruses reservoir is used. The normal antiretroviral therapy is then used to kill the viruses. With the use of this method, the potential to find the cure has been high with Zion Medical Company, Gilead and AELIX therapeutics in Spain showing positive results. Binor Company in Norway is using this method to produce vaccines that act on the virus reservoir through stimulation of antibody production to stop the virus replication while on the other side the virus is being destroyed. The problem with this method is that the available LRAs have the capability to activate only 5% of the virus reservoir.
Immunotherapy and Gene Therapy
Immunotherapy revolves around strengthening the immune cells hence giving them the ability to fight any infection. The current invention in immunotherapy involves the combination of a drug that activates the virus reservoir and another vaccine that tends to induce a very strong immune response. However, some patients respond to the treatment and others do not. Another approach is the development of the T-cell receptors that are said to instruct all the T cells to destroy any cell that is infected with the virus. The approach works on human tissues but has not been tested on people living with the infection. The most successful of the methods has been the production of a VAC-3S vaccine that stimulates antibodies active against protein 3S to be produced. The activity of this vaccine together with a Finnish FIT Biotech vaccine is still being tested. Gene therapy, on the other hand, involves the editing of the CCR5 protein-encoding gene which makes the virus to lack a cell to bind on.
With various forms of research still being carried out, the success of developing a functional HIV cure is still experiencing numerous challenges. With the most advanced development being the invention of the Gammora treatment in a combination of the antiretroviral therapy which has shown complete elimination of the virus, we hope that the best cure will soon be found through immune or gene therapy, shock and kill or any other method.
Read more : Prevention of HIV Infection