Society

Brazilian scientists may have developed a treatment capable of eliminating HIV

The results still need to be followed by other external researchers, and checked

The research coordinator, infectious disease specialist Ricardo Sobhie Diaz/ Photo: Sergio Dazzi/Unifesp Website
  • The Unifesp research initially counted on 30 volunteers who had an undetectable HIV viral load in their organism and were undergoing standard treatment with antiretroviral cocktails;
  • One of them, a 36-year-old man, has been free from the virus for 17 months now, after living seven years with HIV.

Researchers at the Brazilian Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp) conducted a study on a global scale with people infected with HIV and managed to eliminate the virus from a patient. The man no longer shows signs of the virus after taking a powerful drug cocktail, but the scientists say that it’s not possible to talk about a cure for AIDS yet.

Coordinated by the specialist in infectious diseases Ricardo Sobhie Diaz, director of the institution’s Department of Medicine’s Retrovirology Laboratory, the Unifesp research initially involved a group of 30 volunteers who had an undetectable HIV viral load in their organism and were undergoing standard treatment with antiretroviral cocktails. One of them, a 36-year-old man, has been free from the virus for 14 months now, after living seven years with HIV.

READ ALSO: Brazil’s health regulator allows Chinese Sinovac vaccine trials; the second vaccine against the new coronavirus to be tested in the country

They were divided into six groups and each received a combination of drugs, in addition to standard treatment. The group with the best results received two additional antiretrovirals: a stronger drug called dolutegravir and another one called maraviroc, which, according to the scientists “forces” the virus to appear, causing it to come out of the latency state, a kind of hiding place in the body. With that, the virus can be destroyed by the other drugs used in the treatment.

Two other substances have potentialized the effects of the two mentioned drugs: nicotinamide and auranofine. Apparently, nicotinamide has greater effectiveness against HIV latency than two other drugs used for this purpose and also tested.

READ ALSO: University of São Paulo tests materials to produce 1 million masks for hospitals

According to the scientists, the results represent an advance in research that, one day, may lead to the discovery of the cure for AIDS. This is the third case in history in which the elimination of HIV is described.

The results still need to be followed by other external researchers, and checked, after all, it is necessary to know if the elimination of the virus is really due to the treatment to which the patient was submitted, or if there are other reasons for this.

As pointed out by other scientists interviewed by the New York Times, one in 20 people who start traditional antiretroviral treatment soon after they are infected also suppress the virus to undetectable levels. The scientists in Brazil have offered to send samples for confirmatory tests to other labs.