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The International Workshop on HIV Persistence, Reservoirs & Eradication Strategies convened last week in Philipsburg, USA, from December 6-9.
Workshops discussed animal models of HIV persistence, the virological and immunological factors at play, and the development of new therapeutic strategies to reach a functional or a sterilising HIV cure.
“It was a unique program, involving researchers from America, Europe and Australia, and the abstracts we received show that the field is moving quickly,” said cofounder Dr Alain Lafeuillade, from Toulon, France.
“With the case of the Berlin patient we now know that an HIV cure is achievable, but we have to find strategies which are scalable.”
The Berlin patient was declared cured from HIV a year ago after receiving two bone marrow transplants for acute leukaemia.
The bone marrow donor exhibited a rare defect on the CCR5 co-receptor that HIV uses to enter cells.
Another approach to a cure is purging residual HIV reservoirs with drugs capable of acting on latently infected cells.
Trials have already started with Histone Deacetylase inhibitors, disulfiram and bryostatin, and preliminary results were published at the workshop.
“It is still necessary to increase our understanding of the mechanisms involved in the maintenance of HIV reservoirs during effective antiretroviral therapy,” said Lafeuillade.
“That is why the NIH and the NIAID recently awarded $14 million/year for research on eradication of HIV through the Martin Delaney Collaboratory”.