Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) infection was first clinically observed around 1980's in the United States. It is believed that the infection originated from non-human primates in West-Africa, which was transmitted to humans in the process of zoonosis. Since then, millions of lives were wasted because of the disease. Fortunately, experts are now beginning to see the light towards finding the cure for HIV.
Janssen Vaccines & Prevention B.V., one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, published a study regarding a potential cure against HIV infection. The drug is in the form of vaccines combined with immune stimulation.
HIV attacks the immune system, and hides in infected cells, which, as of now, makes it impossible to eradicate. However, the new drug's goal is to control the HIV, to make it a visible target for the vaccine.
Experts have conducted studies
in non-human primates (NHPs) infected with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), a similar virus to HIV. They combined drugs in forms of adenovirus serotype 26 vector vaccine (Ad26) and an MVA vector vaccine (MVA)) with a TLR7 agonist. They administered the drugs together with antiretroviral therapy (ART), the approach used today to decrease HIV's complications to the body.
Results say, NHP's got a lower count of virus in the blood, and there was less to no re-occurance of complications even after ART was stopped.
“The objective of our study was to identify a functional cure for HIV – not to eradicate the virus, but to control it without the need for ART,” said lead author Dan Barouch, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at BIDMC and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Current antiretroviral drugs, although they’re lifesaving, do not cure HIV. They merely hold it in check. We are trying to develop strategies to achieve ART-free, long-term viral suppression.”