Scientists at Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark, claim they are now close to finding a cure for the deadly Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
According to a report in The Telegraph, the Danish researchers have found a technique in which the HIV virus attached to the DNA cells would be released from its "reservoirs" and brought to the surface of the cells. It would then be destroyed by the body's natural immune system boosted by a vaccine.
The researchers believe that the end results of the test means that "finding a mass-distributable and affordable cure to HIV is possible," said once of the scientists involved in the research.
The laboratory test carried out by the team proved successful and the scientists are now conducting human trials.
Currently, 15 people are undergoing the test and on yielding positive results more patients will be brought under it.
On the basis of successful laboratory test results, the Danish Research Council awarded the scientists behind the research with 12 million Danish Kroner ($2.97 million) for clinical trial on humans.
"I am almost certain that we will be successful in releasing the reservoirs of HIV. The challenge will be getting the patient's immune system to recognize the virus and destroy it. This depends on the strength and sensitivity of individual immune systems," Dr Ole Sogaard, a senior researcher at the Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, told The Telegraph.
The same test is being conducted by researchers in Britain, US and other countries in Europe.
The technique used by the research team includes the use of drugs called HDAC Inhibitors which are commonly used in cancer treatments. The drug strips off the virus out of the patient's DNA. The team is reported to be using a powerful type of HDAC inhibitor called Panobinostat.
Until five years ago, it was believed that there was no cure for HIV. Contradicting the idea, Timothy Ray Brown, an HIV patient popularly known as "Berlin Patient", was cured from the disease after he underwent a bone marrow transplant from a donor who was said to have a rare genetic mutation which made Brown's cell resistant to the virus.
In 2007, Timothy Ray Brown was announced to be the first patient to have been cured from HIV.
While gene therapy was approved to be a cure for HIV, it was not only complicated but expensive as well. Moreover, it could not be easily transferred to diverse gene pools around the world.
A second approach to cure HIV is the one using HDAC Inhibitors practiced by the Danish team, and researchers in the US and Europe.
The same technique is used by Collaborative Eradication of Reservoirs UK Biomedical Research Centre Group (CHERUB) which was formed by a collaboration of five universities in the UK, including Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, University College London and King's College.