Health : Scientists May Have Discovered A Way To Control HIV Without Drugs


There’s Good News coming out of the White House today. A technique supported by the National Institute of Health using genetic modification of cells has proven a safe way to treat and control HIV without drugs. Here’s the initial report:

“Scientists today report initial results from humans on the safety and tolerability of a novel strategy to curb HIV disease by removing key cells from HIV-infected individuals, genetically modifying the cells to resist HIV infection and returning them to those people. The basic and pre-clinical research on this strategy, which eventually might help people control the virus without drugs, was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. The Phase I clinical trial was funded by Sangamo BioSciences and was led by NIAID grantee Carl H. June, M.D., with co-investigators Bruce L. Levine, Ph.D., and Pablo Tebas, M.D., all of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

The trial built on the observation that people who naturally have a genetic modification in a protein called CCR5 are resistant to HIV infection, and when infected with HIV, progress to AIDS more slowly. CCR5 is a cell-surface molecule, or receptor, that most HIV variants must use to enter their primary target: the CD4+ T cell. In the trial, CD4+ T-cells were collected from each of 12 HIV-infected volunteers whose virus was controlled by anti-HIV therapy. These cells were then treated in the laboratory with molecular tools called zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs). The ZFNs were designed to snip the DNA within the gene that codes for the CCR5 receptor. This process introduced a genetic mutation rendering CCR5 receptors non-functional. Subsequently, the cells were stimulated to multiply, and each patient received an infusion of 10 billion of their own CD4+ T-cells, with roughly a fifth of the CCR5 genes now mutated.

Four weeks later, in a planned interruption of anti-HIV therapy, half the study participants stopped taking their antiretroviral drugs for 8 to 12 weeks. Investigators found that the experimental treatment was generally safe, and that the genetically modified cells appeared to be protected from HIV infection. In one volunteer who naturally had the desired mutation in half of his CCR5 genes, HIV replication was controlled during the entire 12-week treatment interruption. Future research will include evaluating this experimental treatment in more volunteers, as well as maximizing the frequency of CCR5 disruption by ZFNs and increasing the persistence of the genetically modified cells in the body to achieve a therapeutic effect.”

Let’s cross our fingers for more good news like this and even better ones leading to the eradication of the disease.


There are 44 comments

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  1. Cameron De'Faux

    This all sounds great. However, there are other things on the table concerning those diagnosed with HIV in the US. Coinciding with National HIV Testing Day on 6/27/14 my book will be released. The name of the book is The Story Within – A Scrapbook of the Eradication of HIV/AIDS in the US.

    It’s bigger than just drugs and shots, condoms and protection.

  2. Manuel Jr

    This is good news. A step in the right direction. If more volunteers needed for further clinical trials I would definately offer myself to help in any way to fight this disease.

  3. David

    As a HIV- person I’m happy for the possibility of seeing already infected people getting betting by the progress of this new genetic technique. But people still need to be careful and never drop latex when having sex with a stranger (or no stranger). This is a possibility, not fully developed.
    Kudos to those who spend hour in a lab looking for a cure, the streets of this country should have their names !!!!

  4. Gay Tony

    If this is the miracle cure, let’s hope it’s not so expensive that only rich people will be able to get the virus under control.

  5. john

    Adam4Adam should NOT publish these kind of articles.
    1/ The tests on these research are at too early stages and we might discover that cells alteration could create more severe disorders.
    2/ any anouncement other than effective VACCIN is an encouragment for brainless people to fuck without condom and to get infected and infect others. Aids remains a terrible desease making people lives a nightmare for some.

    Please be more cautious. Especially when at the bottom of the article you publish a pic of guy fucking another. It is irresponsible!!

    • blog

      John, we will publish whatever we want to publish.
      Similar articles are on EVERY HIV magazines, blogs, newsletters, health blogs etc….

  6. einathens

    This is kinda confusing. What about those who aren’t already resistant? Or already on meds?
    And what will it cost?

  7. Alex

    Pretty cool! I think genetic modifications will be the upcoming ways to treat many complex diseases. Hopefully, the virus doesn’t evolve a new way to enter the cell.

  8. raparker

    Genetically modified cells? I am not sure I would trust the governments work in this field in my blood or anyone’s. The long term resistances of such a modified interruption in future generations could be . . . . . . ?!!!

  9. marc

    Great news — let’s hope a cure for AIDS is here soon. So good to have good news in this season of such bad news everywhere.

  10. fairprince

    Fantastic. It’s am incredible break through hats off to all those who placed serious money into the search for this

  11. alejandro

    MJ, great question. First, viral load refers to the amount of HIV in a person’s blood. When the amount of virus gets to the point where it cannot be found it is considered to be undetectable. Now, what that means for guys who r sexually active is that an HIV+ person with an undetectable viral load is less likely to pass on HIV to someone else,. Undetectable is achieved by taking medications and adhering to them.

  12. Christopher

    I have never understood why procuring an orgasm supersedes basic morality and honesty. If sex with me carries the chance of spreading a potential life threatening disease to you, then I am morally obligated to tell you of that risk. I am obligated in all circumstances to give others the information they have a right to know.

    I’ve also come to understand that the gay community is the least “educated about HIV” and it’s transmission. As a medical practitioner, I find that really odd/strange.

  13. Lovetobreed

    John – like Dave the Blogger post, it’s information. An informed society is a better society. People are going to have sex simply to have sex. It’s been going on thousands of years that way.

    Christopher – I don’t agree with you on the gay community being the least educated about HIV. Being Bi I find that many of my str8 and/or curious friends (both sexual and non sexual) know absolutely nothing about HIV, etc. and the Gay/bi men know more. And what’s crazy. Even some of the people in the medical field (radiology, etc) seem to know nothing about it at all. That’s just from experience.

    I’m looking forward for more testing and trials. I know that this can be licked (no pun intended), and like I’ve always said, we as a society have to think outside the box in order to do so.

  14. Joe

    This is all great news, but to me it sounds like a on going treatment for the rest of their lives. I understand with the drugs they are not always 100% and have to change often. This is just a step closer to finding a cure which is great and all, but least not forget its still not a cure so be safe and wrap it up.

    To the guy that said he has been positive for 2 years and not on meds. I say see another doctor and start meds as soon as possible. I seen studies that show that being on meds is better than not at all. That is even if you are undetectable and will help you in the long run.

  15. Stephen

    First, wow, just wow, and amazing. Although I wonder how long until the rich fat cat drug companies squash this research.

    Second, people please understand that “Undetectable” refers only to the number of virus in the blood-not the semen. Undetectable is not a license for raw sex. Consenting, informed adults can do what they want, but health care professionals need to do a better job dispelling this undetectable = safe myth.

  16. clinton

    MJ: To clarify what Alehandro said, undetectable DOES NOT mean that you no longer have the virus in your body. YOU DO! It just means that the amount that you have is to small to be detected by the tests that we have now.

  17. DK

    I’m glad people are cognizant that condom use is still important, but gays seem to have forgotten that condoms are only 97% *when used properly*. And they are almost never used properly: they should be used with water-based lube only, they should be lubed inside and out, they should be changed every thirty minutes, they should be used during oral/foreplay.

    Given that sex with an undetectable partner also has a 97% risk factor, if you only sleep with guys who report as negative but aren’t using condoms properly, you are the one with a false sense of security since your risk factor is actually higher!

    Use condoms, yes, but use them properly!



    The New York Times

    March 4, 2014

    Injections Providing Protection Against AIDS in Monkeys, Studies Finds

    In the other study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, six female monkeys were given monthly injections of GSK744, an experimental drug that is a long-lasting form of an antiretroviral drug already approved for H.I.V. treatment by the Food and Drug Administration.

  19. Jim

    This sounds like a great start. I have had HIV for over 2 decades now. It would be nice to get off the meds. I keep in really good shape, very muscled up, otherwise the meds make it obvious because of lipohypertrophy (abnormalities of body-fat distribution). Working out a lot just makes more people want to have sex with me, but I am married. So this is really great news if we can get off the meds.

    I have been treated so badly by people that find out I am HIV+. I was once involved in a lawsuit and my status was brought up to make me look bad and challenge my character. Since my testimony was pivotal to the suit, my side brought in my doctor to testify as to the method to which I became positive, a blood transfusion. Like I said, I’ve been positive for many years. It should not matter how anyone became positive. I hate being called dirty.

    Lets hope this is real.

  20. The 1 who read it

    I don’t understand how those people that post negative comments about the research. In the name of health and science let the damn people try. Spend less time on Facebook and more time in a damn book. And you may help the cause.

  21. radman444

    This is not news. These procedures have been unproven in areas such as cancer research. Let your public know when something from the NEJoM(new england journal of medicine) comes across something besides peptide manipulation. Stem Cells Anyone?

  22. monsterballs

    We often get our hopes dashed over these cures, but sometimes we are not let down. Until this one pans out, get tested and get on antiretrovirals immediately if you find yourself POZ. You stand a better chance of succeeding in a new treatment, if your virus has always been kept in check, and this may not pan out for the general public for years.
    I’ve been poz for 31 years now, and didn’t require medication until 1997. I was in the stop arm of the SMART study back in the 2000’s and within a month my t-cells were down to 200, and so I changed to a now drug regimen and have been undetectable ever since. Shortly afterwards they discovered it was best to treat HIV as early as possible, and they discontinued the study.

    I take my meds religiously, and avoid acquiring additional, more virulent mutations of HIV. I think my antique circa 1982 virus is enough, and it has stopped with ME. I have lived my life like every day was my last, but also planned for the future, and my life has been fuller for it. I’m truly grateful to be healthy at nearly 50! I never thought I would have lived to see 2014! Bonus!

  23. Pozandproud

    I’ve been positive for 2 years and went on treatment 3 months after I found out. I had a 100,000 viral load and a cd4 of 540. That was not an easy road to go down. And for something I could have prevented. Ashamed. But also proud to live in an age where it’s no longer a death sentence. I take complera once daily. Just after 3 months my viral load was 7,000 and cd4 was 620. Now my viral load is under 20 and my cd4 is at 930! I Thank science, god, and my family for my life. I’m a much better person now. And I’m not a reject, whore, Or a bad person. I’m just human. And please don’t shame me. I’m not shaming you for wearing those shorts in the club.

  24. Skin-n-bones

    I am usually an eternal optimist. I am also a frank realist.. I certainly hope this pans out but let me point something out.. there is one huge GIANT obstacle… and that is BIG PHARMA.. conventional wisdom leads many to understand that there is no money in “cures”.. but HUGE profits in treatment… cancer anyone?
    from arthritis to lupus… never a cure only treatments. I wish I had more faith in our government to have our best interest, but its all too obvious come election time ,. who interests they are protecting… it’s not ours.

  25. Joe

    the headline is really misleading !!! I do wonder why A4A publishes these articles and then allows for anything goes as a choice.

    Nice to know some of where the science is but this is so far away from being valid and seems to only work on certain strains of HIV as well (meanwhile all of you who practice anything goes and say its just a choice is helping to mutate this virus and this approach to attacking hiv will be null and void because the virus will adapt )

  26. P

    When undetectable chances of passing it are almost 0%…also if you do PrEP therapy ( 1 truvada a day) chances of getting it even if u had blood drip into a wound you still 99.9% would not get it. So witb PrEP …theres should be NO NEW infections. Its the ones who fail to get tested and BBers that are the culprits. So id rather take one pill and NOT worry at all then anything else. All guys should be taking PrEP. Look into it fellows. Best route right now. PrEP is taking a pill so that IF you are exposed…chances are very great 99.9% you will not get infected by it. This news is from the meeting going on in Boston this week.

  27. JoeG

    If you really think that the pharmaceutical companies will EVER let this happen, you’re living in denial. They control the government and the FDA, and if this will cut into their profits, it will never get approved.

  28. Hunter0500

    For anyone with an ongoing diseaese of any kind, these drama-filled, early announcements of “breakthrough!” only serve over time to dash hopes and discourage. Very few of them ever come to fruition because they either do not bring cures or improved lifstyles for patients or have unacceptable side-effects. Trials and treatements need to be left in the hands of patients and their doctors. Media outlets need to find something else to report on.

  29. Robert

    The new Hepatitis C treatment price is being set at ~$86,000. How much will customized genetic treatment cost, if and when it becomes feasible?

  30. Robert

    And, by the way, PrEP has side effects and costs more than $10,000/year – to the one who says “everybody just take PrEP and don’t worry.” Don’t forget (assuming you ever gave it any thought to start with) that you prescription co-pay (if you have coverage) comes nowhere near covering the full cost of the medication – please don’t tell me your PrEP only costs $75/month – that’s all you pay directly – your employer pays the remainder through health coverage/benefits.

    Any for those who are HIV+ and on meds and think they can’t pass it on. Please learn more. HIV affects immune cells – lets say you contract gonorrhea or syphilis, or even a non-STD disease. That stimulates the immune system – possibly causing a spike in your viral loads, and making you infectious. Especially with that pus (dead white cells) dripping out of your urethra. And do you really want to be contracting STDs from careless partners when you have an immune system compromised by HIV (even though meds are holding viral loads in your bloodstream in check)? And, last, but not least – – viral load is the viral load in your bloodstream – there may, and likely are, reservoirs of the virus in your semen, testes, immune system components (your gut mucosa contain immune cells, for instance). Don’t be ignorant.

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