British pharmaceutical major GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will initiate human trials as part of its efforts to find a cure for HIV, reports said on November 29. A formal announcement is expected to be made by the company at an investors' meeting soon.
The planned clinical tests involving humans are considered to be ground-breaking trials to find an HIV cure. An estimated 38 million people globally were living with the disease in 2019, as per a recent Kaiser Family Foundation study.
GSK would reportedly start testing therapies on humans to wake up a latent HIV virus within people's immune cells. Once the virus is brought out, efforts would be directed towards neutralising it.
"The idea is that you have to wake up the latent virus and try to get rid of it," The Telegraph quoted Dr Kimberly Smith, head of research & development at GSK's HIV health division ViiV Healthcare, as saying.
The therapy, during the trials on non-human primates, was found to be successful in making the cells identify themselves, the British daily reported.
If it produces the desired results in humans during the trials, the next target would be to clear the virus after it has been induced, Dr Smith reportedly said.
In recent years, treatments against HIV have emerged which are allowing the affected persons to live a long life. However, the disease cannot be completely cured which forces millions of individuals around the world to live with HIV, which has been massively stigmatised.
Notably, GSK is one of the major players among drug companies offering treatments for persons diagnosed with HIV. The injection therapy offered by the company allows the patients to get injected once a month, instead of taking daily pills.
The pharmaceutical firm is reportedly working towards making its injection therapy longer-lasting, which could allow the patients to get injected only once in six months.The company is also reportedly developing longer-active preventive drugs against HIV which can be administered at longer gaps. The drugs, which could be used by those who are at high-risk due to close contact with HIV patients, may replace the current requirement of taking daily pills.