The month of November is starting with some good tidings as a team of medical researchers are almost sure they are on the right track to finally provide a cure for HIV following the outstanding result delivered by an initial human clinical trial of a drug known as Gammora.
It has been reported that in the first phase of testing the drug Gammora, it eliminated as high as 99 per cent of the HIV within the first one month of treatment. An Israeli biotech company called Zion Medical has worked on the trials in collaboration with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The groundbreaking outcome of the trial showed that the Gammora drug caused a significant reduction in the viral load of human subjects by eliminating the HIV-infected cells and leaving healthy cells unharmed.
While this is a small scale start and the first stage of exploration, the outcome of the test has offered plenty of hope for a potential HIV cure since the early emergence of the virus 35 years ago.
Dr Esmira Naftali, who is the head of development at Zion Medical said that these first clinical results were beyond the expectation of the team and their promise to find a cure for the HIV disease.
In the months of July and August 2018, a total of nine HIV patients were randomly selected at the Ronald Bata Memorial Hospital in Uganda and were assigned to receive differing doses of Gammora for about four to five weeks.
According to doctor Naftali, most of the patients showed a significant drop in the viral load of as high as 90 per cent from the baseline in just four weeks.
During the second phase of the Gammora trial which was conducted two week after the first, patients were given the Gammora drug with some additional retroviral medication for another thirty to thirty-seven days.
The outcome of the second trial showed a substantial reduction in viral load of up to 99 per cent with combination treatment in patients after four weeks. The patients who participated in the study showed no signs of side effects and the Gammora drug is non-toxic.
Another positive revelation of the study is that patients in both the first and second study group showed a significant increase in their T cell counts during the total ten weeks of study. This increase in T cell count plays a major role in the functioning of the immune system.
Dr Naftali shared that given the limited nature of the study they carried out, they are very excited to show proof of the efficiency of Gammora in Phase two with a higher number of the participant over a more extended period.
The research on this drug for the cure of HIV was initiated by Professor Abraham Loyter a decade ago at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
A journal article on Aids research and therapy published in 2010 had revealed the results of the pre-clinical test, and the current result of the human trial appears to be a mirror reflection of the pre-clinical test result.
During the earlier stage of development, Zion medical had previously collaborated with the famous Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.
The second phase of the human trial is expected to kick-start in the following months with the population of study subjects increased to thirty and they dosage period for Gammora extended to a maximum of three months.
Nevertheless, the HIV organisation in Australia has warned strongly against early excitement because much more study is required to help ascertain whether or not the positive outcome can be replicated widely.
According to the public education organisation HIV cure which is run by the National Association of people living with HIV, research announcements about a supposed cure for the virus comes up now and then often touting other steps taken towards finding a cure.
The group added that the behind the scene stories of such announcements are often nothing like what is featured on the headlines as they are usually more complicated and science is not something that advances all of a sudden as a result of one giant step in the right direction.
While the outcome of the Gammora research is entirely laudable and encouraging, it just might take many years for the medication to be mass produced and made available to the general public. More reviews and trials will be done over time before the drug is finally certified for use by a broader population.
Since the emergence of HIV aids three and a half decades ago, it has remained one of the most modern and most devastating pandemics in recent history.
Recent significant advancements in the retroviral method of treatment have made people living with the HIV able to live both healthy and long lives as the retroviral drugs help to block the spread of the HIV through the body.
With the use of retroviral treatment, many HIV patients have now had undetectable and almost untransmittable viral loads. Retroviral drugs coupled with the success of the drug called PrEP, which works to block the spread of the virus, has caused a significant drop in the rate of new infections in Australia.
Nevertheless, an estimated total of about 36 million people around the globe are living with HIV, and this has motivated researches to devote tie and finance for decades to find a cure. Since the outbreak of the HIV disease, an estimated 35 million people have lost their lives from it.
Gammora is not only targeted at helping to put a stop to HIV, but it also could be potentially considered as a treatment for certain types of cancer as researchers are hopeful that it will target cancerous cells and kill them while it leaves healthy cells unharmed.