By tackling the disease in three steps, a British research team has probably developed a cure for HIV. A 44-year-old man underwent treatment, and the dreaded virus is no longer detectable in his body.
36.7 million people worldwide are infected with HIV, but now there is hope for all these people who carry the virus.
A 44-year-old British man was recently healed - the first ever. He is the first of 50 test subjects who have undergone the new type of treatment.
Kick and kill
HIV attacks a certain type of T cells - CD4 cells - that are an important part of the immune system. The CD4 cells localize a disease and tell the CD-8 cells - the deadly T cells - where the disease is located.
But because the CD4 cells are being attacked, the killer cells cannot find the virus. Moreover, a part of the affected cells goes into a dormant state, making the virus even more difficult to control.
The new treatment method tackles the disease that is difficult to detect in three steps. The researchers at Britain's National Institute for Health Research speak of a 'kick and kill strategy'.
Sleeping cells are awakened
In the first step, the patient is treated with a retrovirus, which ensures that the infected cells do not divide and spread the disease further.
In the second step, the patient is injected with a virus that strengthens the immune system and enables it to fight HIV more effectively.
Finally, the patient receives vorinostat - a medicine that wakes infected cells out of their dormant state and triggers the enhanced immune system to detect and clear up the disease.
Despite the first positive results, the scientists are reluctant and do not speak of a cure, because they do not yet know the long-term prognosis.