According to researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, a cure for AIDS is on the horizon and could be available in as little as five years.
The University of California, San Francisco was awarded a multi-million dollar grant specifically to encourage researchers to find a cure for AIDS within the next five years. The grant was awarded by the American Foundation for AIDS Research, according to ABC 7 News, and was taken from $100 million the group has raised to end the war against AIDS. The goal, according to the American Foundation for Aids Research, is to eradicate the AIDS virus and cure individuals who have AIDS.
The University of California, San Francisco was chosen for their past research with AIDS patients and the close proximity they kept in touch with the patients they used as part of their research.
As a result of the grant, Dr. Paul Volberding, a pioneer in the research of AIDS, will head the Institute for HIV Cure Research at the university. Volberding is optimistic that a cure can be discovered in the next five years, although he will not promise that it will.
“It’s hard to say we’re going to do it by then, but there’s no question we’re going to make a lot of progress in five years.”
To begin the journey toward an AIDS cure from a fresh perspective, UCSF Center for AIDS Research representative Steven Deeks claims that a group will be formed to map out exactly where in the body the AIDS virus tends to live. The research may provide answers as to why some individuals have a dormant form of the virus and why some have the active form. It may also trigger why the dormant form becomes active.
“We’re going to bring in a group of investigators together and just map out in people where the virus lives.”
Volberding feels that the team he is forming and the generous grant will go a long way toward research and could very well lead to the end all cure, according to KQED. However, he claims that five or six years ago, he would not have been as confident. Recent research and the promise of funding over the course of the next five years has made him optimistic and motivated toward developing the cure.
“If it can be done anywhere, it can be done here. It’s a really exciting moment.”
Modern-day medications have allowed AIDS patients to lead fairly normal lives, especially when it is caught early on. However, individuals who have had AIDS since its early days may not be so susceptible to a cure since the virus has potentially undergone multiple mutations within the individual’s body. However, Deeks claims that the younger generation of AIDS patients, those who contracted it in recent years, will have a high level of hope for a cure.
“Your typical person who is 20 who gets HIV. In the modern era, they come in to the clinic very quickly and we put them on good, safe medication and yes, absolutely, it’s going to be easier to cure that generation.”
Although there is no guarantee that the cure for AIDS will be discovered in the next five years, Volberding and his team are working with the five-year deadline in mind. Working against a hard stop will provide a definitive end goal to motivate the researchers.
AMFAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost is cheering on Volberding and his team, hoping they can achieve something many once thought was impossible. Although a widespread cure may not be the final result, Frost believes they will have the ability to cure some patients and will go a long way toward a permanent cure.
“There are those who said space travel would never happen. People who say a cure for AIDS is impossible simply don’t understand the science. We’re going to find a cure for AIDS; I can tell you that without the slightest hesitation or doubt in my mind.”
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