New trials to see if HIV virus can be ‘flushed out’: expert

New clinical trials have been launched in the US and Europe to test whether HIV virus can be "flushed out" through a new approach of using anti-retrovirals and immune modulating agents, revealed Prof. Christine Katlama, Head of the AIDS Clinical Research Unit, Department of Infectious Diseases, Pitie-Salpetriere, Paris.

Katlama, who is in Pune to participate in the first annual meeting of the HIV Medicine Association, was impressed by the quality of research in India and hopes to invite Indian doctors to participate in a clinical research course in June in Europe this year.

The HIV Medicine Association's two-day meet begins on March 26 and will focus on educating physicians on aspects of HIV treatment, said Dr Sanjay Pujari, Director and Chief Consultant, Institute of Infectious Diseases.

Katlama told The Indian Express that despite controlling the virus in the US and Europe, many new infections are reported. "Can we eradicate the virus instead of just sustaining treatment...Can we lower levels enough to ensure a functional cure that can enable HIV positive people to safely stop antiretroviral therapy," said Katlama adding that the new trial launched in November last hoped to focus on a more potent strategy.

"Antiretrovirals would be combined with immune modulating agents to 'flush out' the latent cell reservoir by triggering silent integrated proviral DNA to start producing new virus. This will then be susceptible to the potent antiretroviral drug combination," says Katlama, adding that 30 people have been enrolled in the clinical trial being conducted by biopharmaceutical company Cytheris. Participants will intensify their current suppressive regimen by adding the 2 newest antiretroviral drug classes, along with interleukin 7 (IL-7) to activate resting CD4 T-cells, she explained.

Apart from Katlama , a host of experts will participate in the meeting, Pujari said.

Dr Suniti Solomon, the founder-director of the YR Gaitonde Center for AIDS Research and Education Care, Chennai who was the first to discover an AIDS patient in India in the 80s will speak on 25 years of AIDS in the country at the meeting. Participants will also speak on challenges to antiretroviral therapy and the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Dr Mike Youle of Royal Free hospital, London, Dr Jim Rooney and others will take part in the meet.

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