FDA Approves “Functional HIV Cure” Trials

Via Medical Daily:

A possible “functional cure” for HIV has recently been granted FDA approval for further human testing. The method uses genetic modification to cause a specific mutation in the white blood cells of HIV patients which mirrors those found in the naturally immune. It has so far shown to be both receptive and long-lasting.

The novel therapy involves taking stem cells from HIV-infected patients and using a gene editing tool to cause them to form into white blood cells with a specific mutation. The mutation affects a protein known as CCR5, and interferes with the virus’s ability to latch onto blood cells. The mutation occurs naturally in a small percentage of the world’s population and gives these individuals a life-long resistance to HIV infections. Although the virus may remain in their body, without being able to enter the T cells, it cannot replicate and therefore will stay at low numbers, uncompromising the immune system.

In theory, when these genetically edited stem cells are reintroduced into HIV patients they will repopulate the body with cells possessing the same mutation. This would give the patients the same lifetime resistance to the virus’s harm with just one procedure. The method was developed by Sangamo BioSciences Inc., but has also been tested in early human clinical trials by drug research company Calimmune. 

San Francisco’s KQED reported on this development on Friday.

(Tipped by JMG reader Paul)

  • Larry Gist

    Where do I sign up?

    • Rambie

      Wonder if this treatment would work as a vaccine too.

    • William

      The last stage trials were extremely difficult to be accepted into. This next round should open up more.

  • Steven

    Well that just made my day to see that! Im HIV negative and regularly tested but Ive seen the suffering and stigma cause by that terrible disease, to live in a world where that pain is gone would be beyond amazing!
    It would also be nice for the bigots to lose one of their main lines of attack (though absurd as it is).

    • Todd20036

      Agreed. I take one pill a day, but would love to be just take this and be monitored. And yeah, I’ve seen plenty of stigma, sometimes even in this blog.

      • guest

        Stigma goes both ways. Stigma includes defending lying to another because one does not like the question “are you clean” or admitting talking others into no condom sex because one pretends it feels better.

        i love how some claim to be the victim while they are the ones justifying lying and harm to others. I love how pointing out an admitted lie is wrong is the one causing a stigma.

        • huntington

          I thought “are you clean” had to do with enemas.

          • guest

            People know what that standard question means, and one bragged that he did not like the question and so will lie just because he does not like the question. It was a way to skirt the truth.

            It is a pretty standard question in our community, with a standing meaning.

          • Randy Ellicott

            Why dont you create a profile, you seem to have some very strong opinions and if you want people to take you seriously you need to create a history, as it is you look more like a fly by troll from the right. It is the internet, you dont have to tell the truth in your profile, but it would allow people to follow your argument and understand your point of view, or you can continue as you are and be written off as a crazy jackass…

      • Joseph Miceli

        I’ve seen that stigma too. Even mentioning that you’ve been attacked can unleash a wave of nastiness and unprovoked vitriol on the part of some.

        • guest

          Nice spin sir. Noting that someone is advocating harming another human being by lying because of a want and of self pleasure, and harming our community from within by lying because of a want and of self please is not an attack. People can comment about their opinion, and when another calls out the harm and the hate to our community as a fact, especially when the first person admitted these points is not an attack. You are claiming victim hood to use as a weapon against others to force your wants and views.

          • Joseph Miceli

            Sorry…no time for crazy today.

          • guest

            But you always have time to ignore facts and create spin.

          • Trevor Brown

            Hey it’s nighthawkeye from Christianforums.com. How ya been ya turd? This makes me want to go back and destroy you again on there a little before I get banned again for not being Republican…err..I mean “chriztian”.

          • guest

            Never heard of this poster. Never heard of this site, and never been on it.

            Destroy me? LMAO! I guess you could try, but show me 1 thing I wrote that was not 100% factual. But, please go back there.

            So, should we add you to the list of the JMG anti condom crowd, that will do anything, say anything, write anything to justify their own perceived pleasure over the safety of another? Do you feel you have any responsibility to another human being, likle being honest and not denying them a chance to make an informed decision?

          • guest

            By the way, it all comes down to one simple question. Do you have a responsibility to another human being; are you your brother’s keeper, if you wish?

          • William

            Okay all you ‘guests’, it’s after check-out time. The maids need to get in there and shovel out the room.

          • guest

            And yet, you do not own the pace. As of this writing, I have been the only guest here on this thread.

            And while I state this, and it is never done because it cannot be done, but show me 1 thing I wrote that is not 100% factual and accurate.

        • guest

          Think of it as equal to “Give them Hell, Harry, only in that if someone sees the facts and the truth, it may feel like hell, but it is not an attack.

      • Ginger Snap

        I’m on three pills a day and am jealous of you. I unfortunately am on the last three that I can tolerate or that work. With most pharm companies focusing on a cure( I in no way think this is a bad thing) they just aren’t putting out many new antiretrovirals. Long time users or low tolerance users which I am both are running out of choices. I’m a tough bitch and plan to be here to see the cure for a disease that took all my most dear friends and a generation of our community.

  • bkmn

    Crossing my fingers that this one will work. It sounds reasonable from a scientific viewpoint.

  • HoneyBoySmith

    Not just KQED. It was broadcast on XM’s NPR channel — which is how I heard it.

    While this seems promising, let’s not forget a couple of things: 1) it takes time for an idea to be proven and for a proven idea to be deployed as a treatment and 2) HIV is not the only STI out there.

    Keep using condoms, people! They work.

    • guest

      3) Viruses, including HIV mutate all of the time. HIV is aggressive about mutating too.

      We have a long way to go.

      I also love science.

    • MarkOH

      Thanks for that reminder. Besides HIV, there is also antibiotic resistant gonorrhea on the horizon, not to mention syphilis as Joe mentioned in an earlier post.

      • Achilles Tsakiridis

        OOOOOOOMMMMMMGGGG NNNNOTTT THE SUUUUUUUUPEERRRSTRRRRRAAAAIIIIIINNNN !!!!!!??????!!!!!

        • William

          Meanwhile American pharmaceutical companies companies have abandoned all antibiotic research. They find it far more profitable to repurpose drugs with expiring patents, create drugs that cause minor weight loss or slightly lower cholesterol.

          • MarkOH

            It’s the market. Noone wants to pay for higher priced meds.

        • MarkOH

          Laugh it up, fuzzball. This is part of our reality whether you want to accept it or not.

          • Achilles Tsakiridis

            Don’t you fucking tell me what my reality is asshole
            My reality is 10 years of your bullshit superstrain terrors. I take my medicine ..have remained non detectable since diagnosis…and get tested every 3 months … the only thing you’ll catch from me is a dose of education. If you fuck without a condom…IT’S ON YOU. 3500 people on Prep ….NOT ONE HAS BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH HIV…over two years now.

            That’s MY reality. So suck a bag of dicks and if it makes you feel better wrap em in a condoms

          • MarkOH

            Tsk, tsk, such language. Are you in medicine? Do you read about the rising resistance to most antibiotics? And HIV is a virus, not bacterial infection.

          • Achilles Tsakiridis

            Im not in medicine
            ….. but my doctor is. I will listen to him. You sould try talking to one that has a degree from this millenium…
            Thanks for letting me now exactly what HIV is . Finally …

          • MarkOH

            As a physician with over 23 years of experience, I know what I am talking about. But, please, ask your physician – “are there resistant strains of bacteria out there? Is there any reason for concern?”

  • Nic Peterson

    Fingers crossed! Maybe this one will be the magic bullet. It won’t bring back those that lost their battle with the disease, those taken from us far too soon; but it will mark the end of a cursed threat and a disease that nearly broke the back of our community.

    • Brian in Valdosta

      Yes. I lost my uncle in 1991, a friend in 1992, several acquaintances in the 1990s, and have several other friends who are living with HIV.

      I would like to see my current friends outlive this.

      • Joseph Miceli

        I have close friends on maintenance right now. They are mostly in their mid to late 20’s. I want them to live and have the opportunities I have now without that constant specter on their shoulders. No one of any age should have to live that way.

      • Nic Peterson

        I remember first reading about AIDS in 1982 as a little baby gay and adding that to the already long list of things that I silently freaked out about. A year later at the tender age of 15, I kissed a beautiful upperclassman and a good bit more. Ten years later we buried him and many others would follow. The disease stole his beautiful body and later his mind. During the last days he would not recognize me. I have always held out hope that a cure will come at last.

        • Brian in Valdosta

          I am very sad to read about your friend, Nic. It cuts to the bone, as do so many. This disease ravaged body and mind alike, took no prisoners, left behind such devastation.

          Let’s hope the future is brighter.

  • GarySFBCN

    Obviously, the people behind this drug are only interested in barebacking.

    There is no need at all for this because condoms are effective.

    This will kill the sex-shaming industrial complex.

    • Oh they’ll always have antibiotic-resistant syphilis and (lightning crash of doom) ‘gay bowel syndrome’!

      • Joseph Miceli

        Um….I must have missed that one. “Gay bowel syndrome?” Time to hit the Google.

        • Joseph Miceli

          Ugh. It had a picture. It was also one of THE most un-scientific descriptions of a disease or complex of diseases I’ve ever seen.

          • guest

            What link had a picture?

            Wiki did not have one, but

            Conservapedia did have a picture of the HIV virus, which shows their agenda.

          • guest

            I also thought any issues were just Lemmiwinks trying to escape? /s

        • guest

          That term is not an official medical term and if a doctor uses it, get away from that doctor.

          That stated, there are legitimate concerns with a person having sex anally with one partner and then moving to the next bottom, with or without a condom (without changing the condom), as each person has a unique sex of life within our GI tract. Changes can cause issues like IBS, etc. That is why science has been moving more toward poop transplant pills for people with GI issues and science is discovering that many GI issues, for gay or strai9ght people seem more and more tied to the life inside our GI tract.

      • seant426

        What’s “Gay Bowel Syndrome”? Is that where you fart glitter?

      • Achilles Tsakiridis

        OR……. ( PLAYS ORGAN OMINOUSLY ..and not the fun one attached to a non English speaking Brazilian…. ) THE SSSSSSUUUUPPPPPEEERRRSSSTRRRRRAAAAAAINNNN!!!!!!!!

    • guest

      Where have you seen anyone here or anywhere that would claim any opinion that one side that advocates for condoms is not interested in all options?

      Stop using the sex shaming charge as a weapon to shut down any discussion. People use that term to justify not ever considering any other facts and instead justify lying to others about status, or even here on this Blog admitting they talk people into no condom sex because they like it better, or boasting they will lie about their status, just because they do not like the question, “are you clean.”

      Stating that another is using a position that justifies harm to another, especially when not everyone has Federal Benefit level health insurance or the financial ability to fight a virus like HIV is not slut shaming, and not sex shaming.

      When did you move from being really balanced and well thought out to being unhinged here?

      • GarySFBCN

        There are a few obsessive commenters here who, for various ridiculous reasons, are against PrEP or anything else because ‘condoms’.

        • guest

          I find it insulting that people who praise Larry Kramer ignore his call to stop f&cking ourselves to death.

          I have never seen a poster cliam only condoms is the answer.

          I do see a whole mess of the JMG anti condom crown who push for a drug and no condoms because they perceive only that it feels better to have no condom sex. Some even admit to lying to a person about their positive status to get what they want.

          Do you not see these anti condom people using the slut shaming or sex shaming charge as a weapon to shut down discussions? And they do it while claiming to be the victim here,.

        • guest

          And Gary, let me ask you thins question.

          Where is there more likely to be an agenda? those who suggest condoms always be worn and those who say condoms and drugs,if done correctly and with a doctor agreeing and each person has a responsibility for themselves and for others too, Or those who say only drugs and every person for themselves, screw any responsibility to another person?

  • MacCrocodile

    Well, I’m glad to see what I consider a reliable source reporting on what I’ve been seeing flying around Facebook. It’s long been my policy to not even click on any medical news links through social media, but I’ll take this.

  • Xuuths

    I hope this is true.

  • HomerTh

    Scientific research is an awesome thing. Too bad a large percentage of Americans hate science and education.

    • oikos

      Why dost thou makest the baby jeebus cry Homer?

      • Joseph Miceli

        That’s “Baby Jebbus” to you, apostate!!!!
        🙂

        • oikos

          Come hither young man and be ‘anointed’ in my love. 🙂

          • Joseph Miceli

            “Get thee behind me Mr. Satan!”

          • oikos

            With pleasure.

    • JoeNCA

      Actually it’s based on a random genetic mutation from a Berlin patient who received a blood transfusion that cured him of AIDS.

      Does that mean God cured AIDS?

      • William

        The Berlin patient received a bone marrow transplant from someone who had a genetic resistance to HIV.

      • Adam Schmidt

        I’m sorry but there’s like at least three things wrong with that statement. The Berlin patient received a bone marrow transplant (not a blood transfusion) from a donor with the delta 32 mutation on the CCR5 receptor. It wasn’t a random genetic mutation either, the donor was selected at least in part because they hoped that the delta 32 mutation on the CCR5 receptor might help combat his HIV if it took hold after the transplant. And it didn’t cure his AIDS. AIDS is a condition of being HIV positive and having a CD4 count of below 200. What it did do is reduce his viral loads to undetectable levels enabling his CD4 count to rise but I don’t believe the Berlin patient was ever qualified as having AIDS.

  • Capritaur

    This will TOTALLY make everyone bareback ALL THE TIME and no doubt will give rise to a super strain immune to ALL treatments that’ll wipe us out. And those getting this treatment are DEFINITELY getting cancer and other side effects worse than AIDS.

    • Joseph Miceli

      You are absolutely right. We should stop work on all AID’s related research immediately.

      NOTE: This post has been edited in an attempt to not make me look dense.

      • Capritaur

        Too subtle?

        • barracks9

          Disqus’ Sarcasm Font is still in beta.

      • Joseph Miceli

        OOOPS!!! Sorry…yes, apparently it was too subtle for me. Need moar coffee!!!!!

    • William

      Add in pre-teen girls getting the HPV vaccine and it’s all over. They will be turning tricks on the playground, get the super mutant HIV, along with multi drug resistant syphilis and one day planet Earth will explode like a giant pustule.

      • guest

        Well, with how the arrogant Human species treats our planet Earth, Earth will explode like a giant pustule at some point for so many reasons.

        • David L. Caster

          Probably not. This planet will go on for many millions if not billions of years. We might destroy ourselves and there is a good chance that if we do, we will take a lot of other species along with us as we go. Nevertheless, in the end, we will be gone like the dinosaurs but the planet will remain to evolve new life, different species, and even changed continents.

      • Joseph Miceli

        You forgot “…giving hand jobs for crack.”

        • William

          Hand jobs? Are those still a thing?

          • Joseph Miceli

            Only on “South Park.” Otherwise, porn star Davey Wavey had it right…the best way to give a hand job is WITH YOUR MOUTH!!!!

          • William

            That is just how I like a hand job, no hands!

    • Achilles Tsakiridis

      OOOOOOOOMMGGGGGGG. NOT THE …eh fuck it.

  • Ron Robertson

    If this works, then bravo to the people who figured this out. Impressive! It’d be so nice to have one less disease to worry about during our most intimate connections.

  • oikos

    Awesome. There are many I wish were here for this, in my thoughts today.

  • Rocco Gibraltar

    I am a college graduate with decent understanding of biology and physiology, but have no idea what this means. Can someone dumb this down to a BA level of understanding?

    • Joseph Miceli

      Now…just speculating…but it looks like the stem cells are removed from the body and then induced to mutate. The mutation is at the active site where HIV attaches to the eventual white blood cell that the stem cell is primed to create. This renders the resulting white blood cell impervious to attack by HIV. Unable to reproduce, HIV stays at levels in the body that are unable or unlikely to cause infection.
      At least that’s what I got from this.

      • Rocco Gibraltar

        Thank you for that translation. And I hope this technique is successful.

      • Rambie

        If HIV can’t replicate, wouldn’t it eventually die out and no longer be in the bloodstream at any level?

        • Joseph Miceli

          I am NOT a biologist and I’m self taught on all this, and someone with that background might correct this…but…HIV is a retrovirus. If there is ANY infection at all, then this means that the virus has managed to incorporate itself into the host’s DNA. To remove it completely you’d have to re-write the host’s DNA. It is like chicken pox. Once you’ve had it you are a carrier for life. Who knows what triggers the virus to “pop out” of the host’s nucleotides and suddenly start reproducing?

          • Piet

            So, does that mean even with the altered white cells, people would still able to infect others?

          • William

            At some point the virus level should be down to very low numbers. No doctor would say it was impossible to infect someone else, only unlikely.

          • guest

            And the CDC has been very clear, even low viral counts means one can infect another. b

          • JamesInCA

            No. Joseph is correct in saying above that there would be “sleeper cells” carrying copies of the viral RNA in their DNA. But these sleeper cells are not what cause a transmission: high levels of free virus in the semen (or blood) are required to transmit the virus to another. This is why those who today have undetectable viral loads due to anti-retroviral drugs cannot transmit the virus. We know the virus is still present because it returns when drug therapy stops, but there isn’t a sufficient concentration to infect another person.

          • guest

            No, any live virus can transmit the virus to another if it is fluid to fluid contact.

            You made that claim, now prove it!

            The CDC has been very clear, that even those with low viral counts can infect others.

          • guest

            Yes, any live virus can transmit the virus to another if it is fluid to fluid contact.

            The CDC has been very clear, that even those with low viral counts can infect others.

          • William

            Leukemia works in a similar way. There are cells in a deep sleep waiting to explode and take over again.

        • guest

          No, the HIV virus would be there, and just not be able to do anything. It would also still be able to be passed on to another, and if the other does not have this treatment, the virus can then get to work.

          The thread had these words:

          ” Although the virus may remain in
          their body, without being able to enter the T cells, it cannot replicate
          and therefore will stay at low numbers, uncompromising the immune
          system.”

          Also, the virus could at some point mutate, as all living organisms, want to live, and that mutation could mean another treatment would have to be done.

          The shingles virus is what caused the measles and it is still there in the body for all of your life too.

    • Tunamelt

      This might help:

      http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/genetically-modified-immune-cells-control-hiv-long-term

      Genetically Modified Immune Cells Control HIV Long-Term

      March 9, 2015 | by Justine Alford

      Anti-HIV drugs have transformed infection with the AIDS virus from a death sentence to a chronic, manageable condition with a normal life expectancy. But although it is now possible to attack HIV at every stage of its life cycle, effectively controlling viral replication and allowing the immune system to rebuild itself, a cure still eludes scientists and treatment is far from perfect. Resistance is still a problem, some of the medications have major side effects, and a number of patients poorly respond to therapy.

      While it is sometimes difficult to get excited when we see so many reports of “breakthroughs” in HIV research, promising results from a series of small trials investigating an innovative therapy in the U.S. have led to renewed hope that a cure could be in sight. The novel therapy involves modifying the DNA of white blood cells to make them largely resistant to HIV and injecting these into patients.

      After demonstrating last year in a very small trial that the treatment could be tolerated, researchers extended the study to include a larger number of participants. Once again, the results were encouraging, with several patients achieving long-term control of the virus. Now, the FDA has just granted approval for a further extension of the trial, and another trial using a similar but more aggressivel technique is also due to commence shortly.

      Rather than using drugs to block viral replication, this new therapy involves removing a patient’s white blood cells, called T cells, and then using a genome editing technique to modify the gene that produces one of the cell surface molecules HIV uses to get inside these target cells. The idea is to mimic a natural mutation found in a small percentage of the population that confers resistance to HIV. These individuals have an alteration in the gene that produces receptors called CCR5, which HIV has to latch onto to gain cell entry. Individuals with this mutation produce a slightly altered and nonfunctioning version of CCR5, but this doesn’t seem to adversely affect their health.

      The reasons scientists believe that this therapy could be effective is because a few years ago, the famous “Berlin patient” Timothy Ray Brown was cured of HIV after receiving a stem cell transplant from a donor with this particular mutation. Brown remains the first and only person to be considered cured of the virus.

      For the first trial, 12 patients were infused with a single dose of the modified T cells. The main goal of this study was to assess the safety and side-effect profile of the cells. They found that the cells displayed long-term persistence in the body and were generally safe, but since such a small number of individuals were used, they could not generalize this conclusion. The trial was therefore extended, and now more than 70 individuals have been treated. So far, it has been well-tolerated, and the cells were found to persist for up to four years. Furthermore, a lasting increase in T cell counts was also observed, even after a planned interruption of the patients’ anti-HIV drug regimen. Now, after receiving FDA approval, two new trials are set to commence in the U.S., one of which involves a slightly different method to disable CCR5, and the other that will use the same strategy as before but on patients who have failed to respond to conventional therapy.

      [Via Medscape, NEJM and Imperial Valley News]

  • Jim

    Crossing my fingers!

  • NZArtist

    Well I for one look forward to the rise of our Mantis-men overlords.

  • LonelyLiberal

    Damn. Just…damn. Science rocks.

  • Ireyon

    Here’s an ad that should be run if this is successful:

    “This novel medicine was brought to you by: Smart People (TM)! We make medicine for you despite the fact that the people you elect try to outlaw stem cell research.

    Smart People. Because SOMEONE needs to stop us from slipping back into the dark ages.”

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    Would you still need to take the medication for a certain period? The threat of drug-resistant hiv would just make me weary of stopping medication.

    I’m just curious about how one would get into this trial.

  • Tunamelt

    Sangamo’s approach to treating HIV is to essentially “recreate” the genetic profile using zinc finger nucleases (ZFN) that allowed Timothy Brown (aka the Berlin Patient) to become HIV undetectable. They do this by inserting a DNA sequence into T cells that deprives them of the CCR5 gene (CCR5 negative folks have T cells that do not get infected because the lack the entry point that HIV uses. A small percent of the population has this natural variation). Because there is a selective preference for the modified T cells, the theory is that they will survive in a sufficient number to be able to provide adequate immune responses to opportunistic infections.

    “USC’s Paula Cannon “Giving HIV the Zinc Finger Using Targeted an HIV-Resistant Immune System” at the Ontario Institute of Regenerative Medicine on 27Jan2015
    The HIV stem cell thread came from an elegant hour long lecture Paula Cannon delivered in Toronto yesterday afternoon. The first part focused on the Sangamo/USC/City of Hope partnered ZFN HSC HIV program and the latter part involved some interesting strategies for addressing the latent reservoir. She provided a primer on the long scientific journey from concept to clinical trial in groundbreaking areas as the Berlin patient, Timothy Brown, inspired a ZFN strategy to replicate the elite controller bone marrow transplant by disrupting the CCR5 gene to include del 32. in HSC that prevents replication of the HIV virus. She reviewed early data that showed excellent control of HIV and maintenance of CD4:CD8 ratios using delivery techniques that were not highly productive until the mRNA electroporation technique was introduced producing around 50% CCR5 disruption. Recall in 2009 that CIRM provided a $14.5 million grant to fund pre-clinical work to get to IND. (http://investor.sangamo.com/common/mobile/iphone/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=419462&CompanyID=SGMO&mobileid) Subsequently, Sangamo and City of Hope received a $5.6 million CIRM Strategic Partnering Award in May2014 to support the Phase I clinical trial of this HSC-based program. (http://investor.sangamo.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=851453)

    Around minute 28 of the presentation (first 11 minutes were waiting for the presentation to start), she focused on a key issue regarding this HSC program: This is the first-in-human use of nucleases in HSC. She made clear that “the bar is set very high” by the FDA. In order for the FDA to approve a clinical trial there has to be demonstration of efficacy and in particular that an HSC-based therapeutic can affect a disease manifested in CD-4 T-cells. Second, how can we convince them (the FDA) of a reasonable expectation of safety, that there will no impact on HSC function and, importantly, no tumors developing from this treatment And this is quite an important thing to evaluate, not just for the patients, but in the trial, but if you like, for the whole field, because our clinical trial will be the first-in-man use of nucleases in HSC, so the bar is set very high. Near minute 34, she mentioned that the ZFN HIV HSC trial should start soon.

    A thoughtful listen to her lecture is worthwhile. “

    • stuckinthewoods

      Thanks for taking time with this helpful recap and links. Commenters like you are the best reason to read these threads.

  • Steven B

    I think I can guess from the context but can someone explain what a ‘functional HIV cure’ means?

    • David L. Caster

      No medical treatment is required to maintain the patient’s health in a state functionally equivalent to that of a person that does not have the disease. Science does not have enough experience with this treatment to say that the HIV infection is completely eliminated and it may not be, but the virus cannot replicate and, therefore, does not exist in the patient’s body beyond those reservoirs that are not reachable by the patient’s fully functioning immune system.

      • Steven B

        Thank you. That’s along the lines of what I thought. But if that’s the case then it isn’t really a “cure” per se, right?

        • stuckinthewoods

          But it is “functionally” a cure. Perhaps reservoirs of the virus remain but this virus attacked those exact cells whose function was to eliminate threats. Adding a cohort of resistant cells restores the function of that system. Is that a cure? Perhaps this analogy is lame but….let’s say you own a house. The heat system breaks. You install a new one but don’t take out all of the old system. The new heat system functions well. Are you warm?

          • Steven B

            I think I understand now. A few minutes ago I went online and Googled it. Here’s what I found:
            The infection appears to be under control without the use of drugs – the definition of a functional cure, which unlike a “sterilizing” cure does not completely get rid of HIV.
            I guess I should have looked it up before asking. LOL
            http://std.about.com/od/HIV-Treatment-Issues/f/What-Is-A-Functional-Cure-For-HIV.htm

        • David L. Caster

          I would not be a cure in the sense that the patient becomes completely free of HIV. It might be the case that eventually some cocktail of this approach plus some other agent that flushes the virus out of “storage” will be developed and thus completely eliminate HIV in the patient’s body. That would be a cure, at least to my way of thinking.

  • Hue-Man

    I welcome any advance to the treatment and elimination of HIV BUT can you imagine how expensive a custom-designed medication would be to the HIV+ patient? It’s a good thing all gays are super-wealthy and able to afford million dollar personalized treatments . Have to go, I just arrived by private helicopter on my yacht!

    • David L. Caster

      Designer meds are now becoming much more common and far less expensive to produce. When compared to the cost of a lifetime regimen of anti-retroviral cocktails, a patient-specific medicine may go on to cost less. Perhaps such treatments will never be “cheap”, but they may at least become economically viable.

      • Randy Ellicott

        True, the tools to do this are becoming more sophisticated, smaller, and cheaper like most technology (think what your computer was able to do in the 90’s compared to now). Also for the very reason you said, most insurance companies would probably cover it since it would be cheaper in the long run.

      • Hue-Man

        I was thinking more of the pricing of Hep C med Sovaldi which Google says is priced at $84,000 for a 12 week treatment. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Big Pharma finds a way to continue to gouge HIV+ patients in creative ways; their thinking is that – much like antibiotics – one course of treatment eliminates the disease whereas chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, etc. generate cash flow for a life-time.

  • Ore Carmi

    Terrific news!

    (However, I question the use of “uncompromising” as a verb.)

    • David L. Caster

      Decompromise is, apparently, not a word according to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged dictionary. It seems that it would be a better choice were it to be. Obviously the intent was to convey the fact that the treatment reversed immune compromise.

      • Ore Carmi

        Ah, thanks! I actually didn’t get it. It could have been better phrased, to be honest.

  • Nuff Said

    What happens to the low level remaining HIV virus in the case of an immune system challenge? For example, we know that the chicken pox virus remains dormant in your body until your immune system is compromised at which time it can flare up as shingles. Could the HIV virus possibly behave in a similar manner causing an active HIV infection later in life?