There is real hope that what’s happening in a Houston lab might lead to a cure for HIV.
“We have found an innovative way to kill the virus by finding this small region of HIV that is unchangeable,” Dr. Sudhir Paul of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston said.
Dr. Paul and Dr. Miguel Escobar aren’t talking about just suppressing HIV – they’re talking about destroying it permanently by arming the immune system with a new weapon lab tests have shown to be effective.
Ford Stuart has been HIV positive for 15 years. He’s on a powerful drug cocktail that keeps the disease in check.
“I’m on four different medications. Three of them are brand new, and it’s the first time that I’ve ever been non-detectible,” Stuart said. “I’m down to about – just for the HIV – about nine pills per day, five in the morning and four at night.”
But Stuart knows HIV mutates, and eventually it will learn how to outsmart his medications.
“The virus is truly complex and has many tricks up its sleeve,” Paul said.
But Dr. Paul thinks he’s cracked a code.
“We’ve discovered the weak spot of HIV,” he said.
Paul and his team have zeroed in on a section of a key protein in HIV’s structure that does not mutate.
“The virus needs at least one constant region, and that is the essence of calling it the Achilles heel,” Paul said.