Main | Friday, March 15, 2013

FRANCE: Researchers Claim Early HIV Drugs Functionally Cures One In Ten

Researchers at France's Institute Pasteur claim that early HIV drug treatment may functionally cure about 10% of the newly infected. Their report follows similar news out of the United States, where an toddler remains HIV-free after robust early treatment as an infant. The French study only involves a small number of patients.
Dr Asier Saez-Cirion, from the Institute Pasteur in Paris, said: "Most individuals who follow the same treatment will not control the infection, but there are a few of them who will." He said 5-15% of patients may be functionally cured, meaning they no longer needed drugs, by attacking the virus soon after infection. "They still have HIV, it is not eradication of HIV, it is a kind of remission of the infection." Their latest study, in the journal PLoS Pathogens, analysed what happened to the immune system of the patients.

Early treatment may limit the number of unassailable HIV hideouts that are formed. However, the researchers said it was "unclear" why only some patients were functionally cured. Dr Andrew Freedman, a reader in infectious diseases at Cardiff University School of Medicine, said the findings were "certainly interesting". "The presumption is that they've started treatment very early and the virus hasn't spread to so many of the long-term reservoirs and that's why it works.
The patients in the study all started anti-retroviral therapy within ten weeks of being infected.  Researchers say they cannot yet conclude that their infections will not rebound. Learning why some people respond in that way may provide clues to an effective cure for all. (Tipped by JMG reader Paolo.)

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