A new small-scale human trial of the promising “shock and kill” treatment is starting this week in New York and two sister sites, in Germany and Denmark.
Another small human study will start in January, followed by a larger human shock and kill trial in June.
The HIV research community is increasingly optimistic about this approach to eradicating HIV from infected patients. Such removal of all traces of the virus from an individual’s body would represent an actual cure.
While progress toward a vaccine and even a functional cure for HIV has accelerated in recent years, a major obstacle has been the “viral reservoir”—locations and cell types in a body where the virus can persist at very low levels even when treatment has succeeded at making it undetectable in the blood by standard testing.
Published in the Jan. 27 issue of Nature, a new study reports that even in undetectable patients, HIV is still replicating in the lymphoid tissues.
The child known as the “Mississippi baby”—an infant seemingly cured of HIV that was reported as a case study of a prolonged remission of HIV infection in The New England Journal of Medicine last fall—now has detectable levels of HIV after more than two years of not taking antiretroviral therapy without evidence of virus.