HIV Elite Controllers Research Identifies Another Patient Whose Body Appears to Free Itself of Virus

Concept photo: HIV elite controllers research finds another patient

In the HIV cure research world, there is a group of people known as HIV elite controllers. Their immune system can suppress HIV without requiring medication. Though this group of people still have viral reservoirs that can produce more viruses, an immune cell — the T-cell — keeps the virus suppressed. 

Now, researchers have discovered another person whose body appears capable of ridding itself of HIV. Xu Yu, MD, of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Havard has been studying the HIV reservoirs of HIV elite controllers. According to Medical Express, Yu and her team discovered a person infected with HIV, the Esperanza Patient. 

The first patient referred to as the San Francisco Patient was discovered in 2020. Yu’s research found that the Esperanza Patient, like the San Francisco Patient, has no intact HIV genomes found in more than 1.19 billion cells and 500 million tissue cells sequenced. It means that the patient’s immune system may have eliminated the HIV reservoir and has no HIV sequence that could create a new virus. This is what scientists call a sterilizing cure. 

Yu said the findings, especially the identification of the second case, show there may be an actionable path to a sterilizing cure for people who cannot do it on their own. She further explained that if the immune mechanisms underlying this response can be understood by researchers, they may be able to develop a treatment that can teach others’ immune systems to mimic these responses in cases of HIV infection. 

Before the sterilizing cure becomes available for everyone, those likely to contract HIV can still rely on PrEP drugs like Truvada. However, the adverse side effects remain a concern, and those affected can still file lawsuits. Contact our mass tort lawyers to learn more.

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