WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Medical researchers are hopeful of a cure for HIV after treating the first patient with a new treatment with the potential to eradicate the virus completely.
The treatment is the result of a partnership between the National Institute for Health Research in Britain and other leading medical research organizations. The collaboration, known as the Collaborative HIV Eradication of viral Reservoirs, is comprised of clinicians, virologists, and immunologists.
"This was a meeting of some of the UK's top medical research leaders and it was a privilege to encourage joining forces," NIHR's Mark Samuels said in a news release. "We understand the power in brokering crucial relationships to pioneer health breakthroughs, and this meeting was a prime example of that."
Together, the coalition hopes to develop a treatment that encourages a patient's own immune system to fight HIV. Their upcoming study will involve 50 participants, in which scientists will activate "sleeping" HIV cells. HIV professor Sarah Fidler hailed the new approach as safe and successful after it was completed with the first participant.
"This first participant has now completed the intervention and we have found it to be safe and well tolerated. Only when all 50 study participants have completed the whole study, by 2018, will we be able to tell if there has been an effect on curing HIV," she said.
HIV is conventionally treated using Antiretroviral Therapy, also known as ART. The treatment works by stopping the virus from copying itself and spreading throughout its host. However, the virus normally returns when the treatment ends.