UMass researchers on possible HIV cure

Posted: 03/04/13 at 4:50 pm EST      Last Updated: 03/04/13 at 10:59 pm EST

WORCESTER, Mass. (WHDH) -- A Massachusetts doctor is part of an exciting new case that could be a big breakthrough in the battle against HIV.

It involves a child who was born infected with HIV and the results have many hoping for a cure.

“I think this is a remarkable discovery that really changes the scenario of HIV and the idea that we could actually eradicate the virus,” said Dr. John Sullivan, UMass Medical school researcher.

Dr. Sullivan developed an effective HIV drug nearly 30 years ago and now he's

Crediting a woman he trained, Dr. Katherine Luzuriaga, with helping to find a potential cure for HIV in kids.

“It was exhilarating. It was something you didn’t think was possible,” said Dr. Sullivan.

This case involves a rare case in America a baby born with the HIV virus. The little girl, 2 ½ years old, had been born in Mississippi HIV positive because her mom had not received prenatal care. On her second day of life, her doctor decided to give her a strong cocktail of three separate drugs at UMass Medical School.

After 15 months, the mother apparently ceased treatment against the doctor’s wishes.

But that led to the breakthrough. A later blood test confirmed the HIVE was gone and lifelong treatments would not be necessary for that little girl.

The three drugs had been used together for a long time, but the treatment of this child is bringing new information.

“It's the timing of when the virus was establishing itself and when the drug was initiated,” said Dr. Sullivan.

“I think what we’ve seen today is a very important finding. We need now to replicate it,” said Michael Collins, UMass medical school chancellor.

Now there needs to be much more research to see if this was some sort of miracle or if the process can be replicated. If so, this treatment could be especially helpful in Sub Sahara Africa where mothers don’t receive prenatal care and babies are still born with HIV.

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