Scientists in the U.S. are calling attention to a pair of promising treatments that could lead to a cure for AIDS.
In a study published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine
, doctors at the University of Pennsylvania removed blood cells from a dozen HIV patients and used a technique that removed a protein that allows the virus to latch on to blood cells. Doctors injected the blood cells back into the patients, then took them off their antiviral medication for a month.
The virus returned in all but one of the patients, but doctors found that the treated blood cells appeared to be protected from the virus. The results of the study could mean that some HIV patients could be freed from taking daily medication to control their infection.
Meanwhile, doctors at an AIDS conference in Boston Wednesday announced that a second infant in the U.S. born with HIV now shows no sign of the virus, thanks to undergoing aggressive drug treatments immediately after she was born in a Los Angeles-area hospital last year.
The first reported case of its kind occurred in the southeastern state of Mississippi, where an HIV-infected baby girl was put on antiviral drugs about 30 hours after she was born. Doctors continued to treat the child until she was 18 months old, when the mother stopped taking her to her appointments.
When the mother resumed the baby's treatments several months later, doctors found no sign of HIV in her blood cells. The girl is now three years old and remains free of infection.
A group of California scientists are about to launch a study funded by the U.S. government that will determine if early, aggressive treatment of HIV-infected babies will allow them to discontinue the drugs if tests prove they are free of the virus over a long period of time.