Today’s Solutions: August 14, 2022

The human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, operates by replicating its own DNA into its hosts. This means it takes over the organism a cell at a time, altering its immune system and bodily functions. To suppress the disease, people infected receive treatment called anti-retroviral therapy (ART). This keeps the amount of virus in the body extremely low at undetectable amounts, allowing them to lead normal healthy lives. Although, there is a small reservoir left in the body which ART cannot eliminate.

Less than one percent of people are termed ‘elite controllers,’ meaning they can fight off the virus due to the natural mechanics of their immune system. In these rare instances, patients have a type of immune cell called killer T cells, which fight off the virus without the need for medication. Although again, elite controls still have reservoirs of HIV still present in their bodies.

In order for patients to completely clear out HIV, stem cell transplantation treatment needs to occur. In extremely rare cases, some humans can say good riddance to the virus without this treatment. This occurrence has only been recorded once before, in a study published in Nature last year. Now, for the second time, a person has again eliminated the infection completely by natural means.

The woman from Argentina was first diagnosed with the retrovirus in 2013. After eight years of treatment and checkups, doctors found no signs of the disease in her body. The study looking into this woman was published in Annals of Internal Medicine by Xu Yu’s research group. They analyzed over 1.19 billion blood cells and 500 million tissue cells from her body, searching for any traces of viral DNA, though none was found. This phenomenon of natural viral removal has been termed a ‘sterilizing cure.’

A similar killer T cell response has been identified in both people which carry this ability. “These findings, especially with the identification of a second case, indicate there may be an actionable path to a sterilizing cure for people who are not able to do this on their own,” commented Yu.

When scientists understand how individuals achieve a sterilizing cure in further detail, the hope is to harness their natural ability and mimic it to treat other people. Yu added, “We are now looking toward the possibility of inducing this kind of immunity in persons on ART through vaccination, with the goal of educating their immune systems to be able to control the virus without ART.”

Source study: Annals of Internal MedicineA Possible Sterilizing Cure of HIV-1 Infection Without Stem Cell Transplantation

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Chicago pledges to run all city operations with clean energy

As countries large and small struggle with the undeniable impacts of climate change, more and more cities are taking a lead in mapping out strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  One particularly fruitful avenue to ... Read More

Sustainable supersonic jets could soon take to the skies

In 1947, the first supersonic jet took to the skies, with American pilot Chuck Yeager becoming the first to break the sound barrier. To make the technology mainstream, the British and French governments joined forces to ... Read More

This wooden steak knife is three times stronger than steel

Scientists from the University of Maryland may have discovered a more eco-friendly alternative to ceramics and stainless steel for our knives and nails by figuring out how to chemically alter wood so that it can ... Read More

Explorers in China find prehistoric forest hidden in giant sinkhole

At a time when the entire world is concerned with the far-reaching effects of years and years of unchecked deforestation, the astounding discovery of an ancient forest inside an enormous sinkhole in China is welcome ... Read More