Australian researcher David Harrich is currently in the important stages of his study and development of a potential treatment for HIV to stop it from progressing to AIDS. The following insights will tell you more about it.
An associate professor at Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR), David Harrich is in the process of improving a certain protein that stops HIV from developing into AIDS. Accordingly, it cannot guarantee a cure; instead, it keeps the infection dormant.
"The virus might infect a cell but it wouldn't spread", he said in an interview.
"You would still be infected with HIV, it's not a cure. But the virus would stay latent, it wouldn't wake up, so it wouldn't develop into AIDS" he added.
Prof Harris stated that the enhanced protein prevented HIV from spreading in three ways using gene therapy. This involved taking cells, also called T cells, from a human immune system.
Pre-clinical trials revealed that the technique used was not harmful to human cells. In fact, it might provide protection and keep the virus from developing with just one treatment. The catch was that it needed to undergo several animal testing stages before it went through human trial, which was still in five years time.
"I'm excited. Every test I've done with this agent has succeeded. It makes me optimistic it will work in humans. At the same time, I'm a sceptical scientist and I'm going to require proof it can jump every hurdle," he stated.
The researchers at QIMR will soon start testing the enhanced protein in mice.
Today, there are over 25 million reported deaths due to HIV. This disease attacks the immune system and soon develops into AIDS. Patients suffering from HIV and AIDS need to have daily doses of anti-retroviral drugs to help lengthen their lives.
According to the World Health Organisation, HIV is still a major global public health issue. As of 2011, there are about 34 million people diagnosed with it. For the time being, there is no cure for HIV and AIDS.