Early tests on first person to undergo treatment show no sign of virus
A British man with HIV undergoing a pioneering treatment hopes to become the first in the world to be cured of the virus, it has been reported.
Scientists treating the 44-year-old patient said he has shown "remarkable" progress under the therapy, designed to track down and destroy the virus in every part of the body.
He is the first of 50 people to complete a trial of the treatment, described as "one of the first serious attempts at a full cure for HIV".
HIV is the virus which causes AIDS - which leaves an individual's immune system too weak to be able to fight off infection.
If the bid to find an irreversible cure is successful, it could not only save significant amounts of money for health system but also offer hope to the almost 37 million people living with HIV globally.
Sub-Saharan Africa has the most serious HIV and AIDS epidemic in the world, with Southern Africa the worst affected region.
The trailblazing research is being carried out by a collaboration of five of the UK's top universities organised by the NHS.
Mark Samuels, managing director of the National Institute for Health Research Office for Clinical Research Infrastructure, told the Sunday Times: "This is one of the first serious attempts at a full cure for HIV.
"We are exploring the real possibility of curing HIV.
"This is a huge challenge and it's still early days but the progress has been remarkable."
The trial patient told the newspaper recent blood tests showed no detectable HIV virus was present, although it was too early to confirm that the treatment had worked.
It is possible conventional drugs could have suppressed the virus.
The existing treatment using antiretroviral therapies (ART) is not a cure, as it fails to rid patients of HIV, but can control the virus enabling people to live a longer, healthier life.
The latest research is testing a "kick and kill" technique to first expose then destroy the virus completely.