Tuesday , 24 October 2017

HIV discoverer: “a cure is almost impossible”

Francoise Barre-Sinoussi
Francoise Barre-Sinoussi

Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, Nobel Prize laureate and co-discoverer of HIV in 1983, said that in her opinion a cure for HIV “is almost an impossible mission,” but a “functional cure” and vaccine might be achievable.

In this article, KaleidoScot explores the issues at stake and outlines her substantive arguments in light of what is known so far.

Barre-Sinoussi made her statement, which has disappointed many, in response to questions posted by the public in an interview with CNN at the International AIDS Society Conference, in Vancouver.

The pioneering scientist who has been a leading edge researcher and long time vocal advocate of HIV treatment and rights, made this commentary in relation to recent various studies that claimed a cure may be possible.

“A cure for me is almost an impossible mission because the reservoir of cells is not only in the blood. How to eliminate all the cells which are reservoirs is why I say it’s an impossible mission. They are everywhere — in the gut, in the brain, in all the lymphoid tissue”, said Barre-Sinoussi.

“Even if you have a very efficient strategy, how you can make sure that there’s not one or two cells still there and if one is there the virus will reappear again? That’s why I say it’s an impossible mission.”

“But you never know”, she added.

Total cure unlikely

Her comments are consistent with last year’s findings regarding the “Boston patients” — two men who received bone marrow transplants to treat their blood cancer called lymphoma appeared to rid them completely of the HIV virus — had relapsed and gone back onto antiretroviral treatment.  It seems the HIV virus was not eradicated completely and after a period where it was totally undetectable it appears the virus managed to hide and then replicate itself.

Further supporting this finding is a recent UK study, published late last week in EBioMedicine, which showed that HIV can continue to multiply in patients who are responding well to antiretroviral therapy.

“This research shows that sadly, the HIV virus has found yet another way to escape our treatments,” said study leader Anna Maria Geretti, a professor from the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom, said in a university news release.

During treatment, the virus can avoid elimination by hiding in blood cells that trigger an immune response. HIV does this by integrating its own genetic information into the DNA of immune system cells called CD4 cells, explained investigators.

Researchers checked levels of integrated HIV in the CD4 cells of patients who had been receiving antiretroviral therapy for between one to 14 years, finding the levels were substantially the same in all of the patients.

HIV-1 budding (in green) from cultured lymphocyte
HIV-1 budding (in green) from cultured lymphocyte

Results indicate that whenever an HIV-tainted CD4 cell copies itself to produce more cells, it also copies the HIV genes. “We always knew HIV is difficult to suppress completely and that it hides inside CD4 cells, but we always hoped that as the body gradually renews its CD4 cells that the hidden HIV would die out. We were surprised to find that the levels of HIV integrated in the CD4 cells didn’t reduce over the 14-year period,” Geretti said.

“The good news is that we did not see any worsening over time, but the bad news is that these findings really cast doubt over whether HIV can be ‘cured’ by increasing immune cell responses against it — a strategy that now looks like it will eventually fail,” Geretti concluded.

Sharon Lewin, an HIV expert at Monash University in Australia, explaining such developments said: “We’ve learnt many things here – and one of the most important is that a tiny, tiny amount of virus can get the whole thing going again”.

In other words, this confirms the scepticism of Barre-Sinoussi regarding the possibility of a preferable solution to be able to eradicate HIV from the body of an infected person and cure the infection once and for all.

Functional cure is possible

Barre-Sinoussi, however, is more optimistic about a “functional cure” although she prefers the term “remission (when the virus is brought down to low levels in the body) … That’s possible”, she said. “I’m convinced one day — I don’t know when — we will have a strategy to induce durable remission.

Two “Berlin patients”, one remaining anonymous, the other being Timothy Ray Brown, an HIV positive American living in Berlin, were “functionally cured” as part of a treatment to acute myeloid leukaemia.

Brown received a stem cell transplant from a donor naturally resistant to HIV and has remained off antiretroviral therapy since the first day of his stem cell transplant. Their stories were chronicled in the 2014 book, Cured: The People who Defeated HIV. The study along with a second Emory University PLOS study on rhesus monkeys shows that the stem cell donation is probably responsible for the functional cure, while radiation therapy destroyed many of the infected cells.  It is possible, but not proven, that Brown’s donor mutation simply left his immune system insulated against HIV, therefore probably providing the “functional cure”.

A small group of individuals have been “functionally cured” or “in remission” because they still harbour the virus within their bodies but it remains largely undetectable and they do not need to take antiretroviral therapy.

These include Brown and the Visconti cohort, a group of fourteen patients receiving early therapy for the virus. A child known as the Mississippi baby was once considered part of this small group but has since suffered a relapse.

Researchers are therefore hopeful regarding a two-pronged approach which aims to firmly suppress the virus while bolstering the immune system, this is probably the best way forward and may, in the near future, provide a “functional cure.”

“We need to attack in two ways – reduce the virus to very low levels and also to boost the immune response. We can’t do one without the other,” said Lewin.

“So we still have to think of other creative ways to control HIV. And it’s still early days… before we can say which approach is likely to be the winner.”

Vaccine is a possibility

Various approaches for HIV vaccine
Various approaches for HIV vaccine

With regards to a vaccine Barre-Sinoussi remains relatively helpful, “in the last six – seven years we are starting to see a lot of progress in the field of HIV vaccine.

“I think the field of vaccinology in general is moving and maybe I am too optimistic, but I like to think because of HIV the field of vaccinology globally is moving, not only for HIV.”

An initial pivotal research shows a promising new antibody treatment that reduces 300-fold HIV in positive people’s blood systems could potentially be developed into a vaccine.

The newly created antibody, named 3BNC117, by a team of top US and German scientists suppressed HIV in the blood without any harmful side effects for up to a month.

The lead author, Michel Nussenzweig, said that the “goal is a once-a-year shot for prevention and a combination approach for [functional] cure.” The antibody could also potentially offer an alternative treatment to the anti-retroviral drugs currently used.

In short there are encouraging studies that show HIV positive people may be able in the near future to undergo long-term remission without requiring lifelong therapies – “functional cure”, but total eradication of the virus from the body is unlikely (i.e. full cure).

Although so far researchers have been unsuccessful to come up with a vaccine, recent studies show that it may be possibility within the near future.

These studies along with new prevention approaches which could include PrEP may prove very effective in lowering infection rates and improving HIV positive people’s lives.

Other issues that Barre-Sinoussi is concerned about are prejudice and stigma that has still lingered on from the 80s, namely that the gay population and the intravenous (IV) drug users are the main suffers/carriers of HIV/AIDS.

The assumption is “it’s a disease that particularly affects those people that are vulnerable but that do not belong to the regular population…”

She adds “…not everybody is accepting of those populations. That makes me really mad. Really mad.”

About Dan Littauer

Dan Littauer is a journalist who specializes in LGBTI current affairs, travel writing, feature writing and investigative journalism. He is a correspondent for LGBTQ Nation, ManAboutWorld, and previously worked for Gay Star News, PinkNews, San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, Gay Middle East, Lonely Planet as well as contributing occasionally to the BBC, Al-Jazeera, CNN and The Guardian. He also had an extensive career outside journalism, which included teaching psychoanalysis and social science, and consultancy work for the travel market. When he is not busy writing, he can be spotted rambling around the stunning Scottish landscape, where he lives, spending time at home with his cat.

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25 comments

  1. Is she pushing her own agenda or has got a point? Her research field has been exclusively dedicated in finding a functional cure…
    As a scientist I am really surprised she would say something so stupid. She is telling the world they are wasting their time in trying to find a cure because is 'almost impossible'…
    We know someone has been cured of HIV as such a cure is possible…The field is moving forward at a very fast pace.
    I think Ms Barre-Sinoussi should focus on her retirement rather than making these statements…
    People with HIV need hope, and there is a lot of hope in the research field. We need to push forward and keep questioning… and stop being distracted by stupid statement made by people looking to grab headlines…

      • Good point they keep playing our fool so drugs company making money rather than cure,, I know as a fact they already have a CURE but they cut back to keep quiet, Because a too much money making and big Profit just like Cancer is, This is a sad world we live this diseases to keep in human body in Thank to a Men-Made, God is watching them.

    • It's her retirement she's working towards… A big personality in the field suddenly makes a declaration right when she's retiring. Doesn't it sound shady? Well, same thing happened with Gallo. One must learn how the stock market and investment works for pharmaceutical companies who are focused on treating instead of curing.
      If there are developments in phase II and III, and one person (there are more) that we know has been cured, it's totally irrational and ignorant coming from this lady, to make such statement.

    • Dear Hero,
      we don,t expect a cure from Ms Barre-Sinoussi, every body is aware of the HIV game. I just want to thank you for your genuine wish and comment.
      Thank you,

      Grace

    • Hello friends,
      I was suffering from ( HERPES DISEASE ) for over 3 years,i was hopeless until one of my friend directed me to a man called Dr Ighodalo, she said he cure Herpes disease and also said he has helped her friend to cure Herpes Virus, and cure other people with different diseases, i never believed her but after a lot of talk, i decided to give the DOCTOR a try, just few days later i contacted him and he told me what to do which i did and he prepared a herbal medicine and sent to me with prescriptions on how i will take it for a period of days. After i finished taking the medicine he told me to go for a test which i also did and when the result came out i was surprised to see that i am Negative. Big thanks to him. You can also contact him via dr.ighodalocuringhome@gmail.com if you need his help for HERPES cure.

  2. She made that statement and then a week later UC Davis shows promise of killing those reservoirs of the HIV virus with a cancer drug. Another study in England is moving forward with the same strategy. Yes you don't know if you kill every single one but that's why there's research, that's why there's studies. As a fellow scientist as well, I find her comment reprehensible. She comes off as the "be-all, know-all" of this virus when her research is focused in one area.

  3. With his all the Bull- Sh-t going on they are making me sick always saying they are closer and closer and that not gonna happe and as a fact I know they already have a cure they are hiding for making to keep people's on drugs taken because too much money making and big Profits, They will never cure anyone just like Cancer it all about the money so they let people's keep the diseases to keep doctors, hospitals and drugs them busy, God see all that Men-Made those diseases to keep, Read my lip THEY HAVE A CURE ALREADY, They are playing on your back, it all about $$$$$$$$$$$$$.

  4. If an Ebola can have a fast treatment, what is HIV? money has been spent on this, they should release the cure to the world. The cure is out many african home have their own ways of permanent cure which God have really bless and heal them.

  5. I noted that only 30 percent of infected HIV take HIV drugs. My own experience has been with HIV drug failure where the virus is weakened and than using herbs to continue treatment. And finding the herbs produced virus that was not detectable. Likely there was a change in DNA caused by mutation when replication occurred. It seems changing DNA of virus is simple way of either better treatment or possible functional cure. One thing you do not need to use toxic drugs daily which maybe one reason only 30 percent of HIV infected are using them. In other words when only 30 percent are using these drug the other 70 percent are having there life span reduced. The use of HIV drug was on cat BUD of Joel Kehler. Which shows up on Time Line study when you look up on the cat BUD FIV. Certainly there is need for improvement in what is being done.

  6. God bless Dr.Oziegbe for his marvelous work in my life, I was diagnosed of HIV since 2013 and I was taking my medications, I wasn't satisfied i needed to get the HIV out of my system, I searched about some possible cure for HIV i saw a comment about droziegbespellhomecure@hotmail.com, how he cured HIV with his herbal medicine, I contacted him and he guided me. I asked for solutions, he started the remedy for my health, he sent me the medicine through UPS SPEED POST. I took the medicine as prescribed by him and 14 days later i was cured from HIV, Dr.Oziegbe truly you are great, do you need his help also? Why don't you contact him through you can also reach him on phone:+2347089906966. ( DROZIEGBESPELLHOMECURE@HOTMAIL.COM )

    DOCTOR OZIEGBE CAN AS WELL CURE THE FOLLOWING DISEASE:-

    1. HIV/AIDS
    2. HERPES
    3. CANCER
    4. ALS

  7. This is a testimony this year 2016. on the 2nd of this month i saw a post that Dr Arthur moon.cure his HIV Virus and i contacted him, as i speak now i am free from HIV Virus. all glory to Dr Arthur moon. if you have HIV Virus contact Dr Arthur moon. and i promise the world will be free from HIV Virus. Contact his email: arthurmoon01@gmail.com

  8. Julie Deshields

    It is no longer news that the Acquired immune deficiency syndrome /Human Immuno Virus (HIV/AIDS) is increasing by the day. The fear is that many people living with the sickness

    are scared of saying it because of the stigma that comes along with it.I am bold enough among many others to state that there is now a potent cure to this sickness but many are unaware

    of it. I discovered that I was infected with the virus 8yrs ago, after a medical check-up. My doctor told me and I was shocked, confused and felt like my world has crumbled. I was dying

    slowly due the announcement of my medical practitioner but he assured me that I could lead a normal life if I took my medications (as there was no medically known cure to HIV). I

    went from churches to churches but soon found that my case needed urgent attention as I was growing lean due to fear of dying anytime soon. In a bid to looking for a lasting solution to

    my predicament, I sought for solutions from the voodoo world. I went online and searched for every powerful trad-medical practitioner that I could severe, cos I heard that the African

    Voodoo Priests had a cure to the HIV syndrome. It was after a little time surfing the web that I came across one DR ADEYEMI (A powerful African Voodoo Priest), who offered to help

    me at a monetary fee. I had to comply as this was my final bus-stop to receiving a perfect healing. My last resolve was to take my life by myself, should this plan fail. Alas! it worked out

    well. He gave my some steps to follow and I meticulously carried out all his instructions.
    Last month, 13 May, 2016, to be precise, I went back to the hospital to conduct another test and to my amazement, the results showed that ” I am NEGATIVE”.
    You can free yourself of this HIV virus by consulting this great African Voodoo Priest via this e-mail: ADEYEMIBELLO1990@GMAIL.COM OR CALL +2348107996445 He will help you

  9. Cristina Pereira

    I am Cristina Pereira, I contracted HIV in 2009 I was told by my doctor that there’s no possible cure for HIV. I started taking my ARV’s, My CD4 is 77 and viral load is 112,450. I saw a website of Dr. Abai, also I saw a lot of testimonials about him on how he uses herbal medicine to cure HIV. I contacted him and told him my problems, He sent me the herbal medicine and I took it for 19 days after then I went for check-up and I was cured. The medicine has NO SIDE EFFECT, there’s no special diet when taking the medicine. visit his website: http://drabaiherbalcure.webs.com

  10. Jasmine Kollick

    I was diagnosed with HIV last year, and for some reason my mind was ready for that answer since I had been showing strange signs since January of this year. Both my love were there with me when I got the news and we are both very supportive, and I am truly thankful for that. I told my closest friends, one of them being the girl I really like, and she has been supporting me since I started this whole process and has always given me support. So far no one has turned their back on me due to ignorance or anything like that. I am thankful that I have not fallen into a depression or anything like that. On Monday June I get my result for CD4 (T-cell) count and virus load count, and I am hoping I have a high level of T-cells. The last thing I have lost is hope and that was what lead me to Dr ANAELE of ( dranaele.herbalherbs.remedy @ gmail . com ) Who helped me with herbal herbs medicine to get me cured of this disease, and I would like to let others know that even though sometimes we might feel the world is going to come down on us, there will always be someone we can count on, who will support us and love us. I am not in a support group at the moment but I would love to be in one, meet others and share with them my testimony. This is not the end of the world; this is not a reason to give up on our hopes and dreams. We are in control, not the disease. Contact Dr ANAELE:( dranaele.herbalherbs.remedy @ gmail . com) as I am right now, I am grateful.

  11. i am Miss Vaner Trian from Germany, I Am really happy that i and my wife are cured of hiv Disease with the herbal medicine of Dr john , i have been suffering from this disease for the past 3 years without solution until i came across the email of this doctors who have cure so many people with his herbal medicine, i also chose to give him a chance to help me and my wife, he told me what to do and i kindly did it, and he gave us his herbal medicine and direct me on how to use, i also follows his direction for use and he ask us to go for a check up after 2 months and which i did, to my greatest surprise our result came out as negative, we are really happy that there is someone like this DR who is ready to help anytime any day. to all the readers and viewers that is doubting this testimony stop doubting it and contact this Dr and see if he will not actually help you. i am not a stupid woman that i will come out to the public and start saying what someone have not done for me. he is really a great man contact him now. (indiaspelltemple123)@gmail.co m the great herbal mercy add him on whatsapp on +2347064365391 thanks once again dr john you are the best I have ever seen

  12. Hello my dear child, how are you? I saw your mail and the content was well understood, though some people said they are not sure about cure for GENITAL HERPES TYPE 1 AND 2 , my child I’m assuring you that there is 100% cure and treatment for herpes and more, I treat and cure HERPES with my herbal medicine and it will take just 14 days for you to get cured, this medicine has no side effect it will only help you get cured, and once you are cured you are cured forever it’s not reversible okay! I’m going to prepare the medicine and send it to you in your country and you will receive the medicine without delay after sending it okay! You are advised to take the medicine 2 times a day!
    That is before Breakfast after Dinner, you will continue to do it for 14 days. on the 15 days of it, you will see your body changing and also go for medical check up and you will see that you will be cured okay!

    So you are to send me the following information about youso i can start with your work as soon as possible :

    YOUR FULL NAME:……………………
    AGE:…………………….
    COUNTRY:…………………
    PHONE NUMBER:…………….
    A PHOTO OF YOU (STATUS OF YOUR ILLNESS):…………………………..
    HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN SUFFERING FROM THIS ILLNESS?…………………..
    YOUR ADDRESS:…………………….

    I await your response, so that we can proceed with the preparation of your
    medicine.
    your health is my concern .

  13. Hello everybody on the internet, my name is caro latite I’m so happy to share this testimony on how Dr Obadan was able to heal me from HIV Disease, well i was detected positive on 23th may 2014, and ever since i have been looking for a way to treat and cure this disease from me, but all ways i try there was no solution, few weeks ago i saw a testimony of some people on how Dr Obadan was able to cure them from HIV disease, still on i heard about it on media when a young lady also gave her testimony about this same Dr, well left with no hope i message Dr Obadan telling him all my problem, he told me what we where going to do, that he was going to send me a portion which i am going to take, and after which i took this herb portion he sent to me, he told me to go back to the hospital for check up and after i have done that i should come and tell him the good news result, at first when i saw the message i was so shock and still did not believed i will be cured, well friend to make my story short i am HIV negative now after many time of sorrow, i am Negative, and my sickness are gone, i thank God for leading me to this man, he email address is () or call him at 2348051129648 http//:obadanblog.wordpress.com he can be of help to you if you have any problem..

    Sir may God Bless You.

  14. Thank God for sending in Dr ekiado who cured my 2 years HIV. I was diagnosed with HIV in 2014, my life came crushing ever since. I have always wished for good future but as a HIV positive i had the bad feelings that all was gone. I did all possible to get a remedy for this disease and all my efforts to get cured was just as nothing. I was clearly told by my doctors that getting a cure to my HIV may be fruitless despite the money i shall spend, this words ran through my heart anytime i thought of doing something to help my situation and i will just feel like to give up all. It all continued this way till early 2014 when i came in contact with comments of possible cure through Dr ekiado Herbal Medicines, at first i thought it was a BIG joke and later i just had the mind of giving this a try hence i haven’t used herbal medicines before. I contacted the herbal doctor and believe me i received the greatest encouragement ever from him. I proceeded to getting a herbal medicine for HIV from him, within some days i stated using it as instructed. He assured me of cure and after some days of taking the medicine he advised me to go for check up which i did, i was so shocked when my doctor confirmed me as HIV NEGATIVE. I tried other hospitals and the results remained HIV NEGATIVE. This is a miracle and it is worth sharing to all those needing a fast cure/remedy to HIV/AIDS, Am sure he will help you too as he helped me, reach the Herbal Doctor now on his whatsapp or call him on +2349057915075

  15. hello viewers,
    i don’t just know the reason why some people find it difficult to believe that there is a cure for HIV well thanks be to god that i have find mine, i have been diagnose with HIV since last three years with my husband, but today i am happy that i am cured from HIV with the help of an herbal medicine from Dr TWINS the great healer. I was browsing the INTERNET searching for help when i came across a testimony shared by someone on how Dr TWINS cure his HIV, i was so much in need of getting his treatment in which i applied for. So after all, Dr TWINS brought a smile to my face with his herbal medicine. i am so much happy today that we have a great healer whom God has sent to save other peoples life. so my friends out there who are in need of his help in any way should kindly contact this great healer on his email address: PEACEHELPMEDICALCENTRE please sir, keep your good work cause there are people out there whom are really in need of your healing medicine from someone like you, so my friends once more contact him now: PEACEHELPMEDICALCENTRE@HOTMAIL.COM OR rather reach him on mobile +2348077544690

  16. Debbie Reynolds

    Am so grateful to Dr TWINS for what he did for me , it is over two years when i contacted this deadly disease, which i don’t know how it happened, this disease “HIV” is seriously spreading all over the united state, i did my possible best for me to be cured, i contacted so many doctors both on net and in my residence non could help me most especially the doctors i contacted on net they failed me by stealing my money and nothing change i have used so many drugs but nothing changed, not until a day, a friend of mine introduced me to this great man who cured me with his powerful medicine.i am indeed thankful to you Doc may God continue to empower you with your good work. i know very well that this disease is all over the united state and some nearby countries so let help our self by reaching Dr TWINS on his mail for he is capable of curing this disease. and i asked him if there is a cure for HPV, he immediately gave me a number of a man he cured recently from HPV, that i should call to confirm from her my self and for real he cured her, am so amazebn13. you can mail Dr TWINS just as i was introduce to him on mail. PEACEHELPMEDICALCENTRE@HOTMAIL.COM OR rather reach him on mobile +2348077544690

  17. Debbie Reynolds

    Am here again to share my testimony how I infected my husband with HIV virus, and we started taking medication for us to live healthy. There was a day i went online and search for cure for our virus, i saw many comment and many post until i saw a testimony about DR TWINS and how he helped so many people get cure to their virus on the site. I contacted him and told him how i and my husband got our HIV virus, he told me what we will have to do, which we did After he finished, he told me that we will take his medication for a week which we also did so and 2 weeks ago we went for test and surprisingly i and my husband are now HIV negative. I am so happy that i got my husband infected and i also make him negative. All thanks goes to God for bringing DR TWINS my way and at this point if there’s anybody who is infected and you think there’s no way of making yourself negative again i must tell you, that’s a lie because DR TWINS will make you negative again. contact DR TWINS via Email:peacehelpmedicalcentre OR ADD HIM ON Whatsapp +2348077544690

  18. Why users still use to read news papers when in this technological globe
    all is existing on web?

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