Spanish researchers have achieved for the first time the long-term functional cure of a patient over 50 years of age with primary HIV infection acquired through sexual contact.
The study, carried out by experts from the Hospital Clínic of Barcelona, ​​IDIBAPS (August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute), the IrsiCaixa AIDS Research Institute and the Carlos III Health Institute of Madrid, has been presented within the framework of the X National GeSIDA Congress (AIDS Study Group), held in Madrid until the next day 9.
In the presence of a foreign antigen, the immune system is activated and, when it is eliminated, it returns to a resting state. In primary HIV infection, this system remains active chronically, which favors the multiplication of virus particles inside the cell, GeSIDA reported in a statement.
This process is accompanied by an increase in viraemia (entry of virus into the bloodstream) and the subsequent spread of HIV to various tissues, after which the acute infection phase would follow.
The research was conducted on a 59-year-old patient at the time of diagnosis (currently 70) with primary HIV infection acquired sexually, accompanied by oral candidiasis and herpetic esophagitis.
Antiretroviral treatment was initiated (lopinavir / ritonavir, emtricitabine, tenofovir) and after two months the RNA (ribonucleic acid) of the virus became undetectable in plasma, the statement added.
When the treatment was withdrawn at 12 months, it did not recover the condition of detectable for the next 10 years (period in which it received no more antiretroviral treatment), also presenting a complete and rapid clinical recovery and a normalization of the immune system without any medical complication.
In the laboratory it was possible to obtain the virus of CD4 T cells extracted from the patient (lymphocytes or white blood cells that direct the response against infections) and it was found that they were permissive for superinfection by HIV.
However, infectious capacity was markedly reduced in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (a type of immune cells including lymphocytes, monocytes, and macrophages), which warrants further investigation to identify the factor that prevented viral multiplication in the cells.
The authors of the study believe that this inhibition could, at least, be partially mediated by the so-called "killer cells" (NK), which are part of the body's first line of defense against infections.
In addition, they highlight the importance of finding other cases such as this patient's for their additional as described, as they present a significant utility to find strategies for the functional cure of HIV.
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