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A cure may need multiple components, workshop delegates hear
Gus Cairns, 2014-03-04 02:30:00

Delegates at the community cure workshop in advance of the 21st Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2014) in Boston might have been in a less hopeful frame of mind than they had been seven months previously when, at the International AIDS Society conference in Kuala Lumpur, it looked as if two more people had joined Timothy Ray Brown in being cured of HIV, using a similar bone-marrow transplant technology.  

Hopes were dashed when, last December, it was announced that both the so-called “Boston patients” had experienced a return of their HIV after staying virally undetectable off treatment for several months. Detailed results will be presented at the conference this Thursday, 6th March, but the challenge will be to find out where their HIV reappeared from, why it took so long, and how we could eliminate or control the tiny ‘reservoir’ of HIV that remains in such patients.    

Paul Sato, of the Office of AIDS Research at the US National Institutes of Health, which is funding AIDS cure research, told the symposium that in the light of the Boston patients’ disappointing results, any “scale-up of relevant eradication strategies and approaches” would be postponed with the focus of cure research swinging back to look at “basic research into the cellular and molecular mechanisms of HIV latency and persistence”.