DAVIS (CBS13) — Researchers at UC Davis say they are one step closer to finding a cure for HIV in a breakthrough study for millions around the world living with the virus.
At 60 years old, Paul Curtis looks like the picture of health.
“I exercise, eat well get a lot of rest,” he said.
But 30 years ago, Curtis was diagnosed as HIV-positive. Doctors told him he might have a year to live, but he’s proven them wrong.
“With this disease, it’s imperative that you take the medications consistently,” Curtis said.
He relies on medication daily. At one point he took more than 40 pills a day. And he can’t miss a dose.
“The virus mutates rapidly when you miss doses,” he said.
He’s one of millions worldwide waiting for a cure. Previous studies have come close, but none have proven to fight off the virus with stem cell therapy.
Dr. Joe Anderson says he has developed genetically modified human stem cells, which have resisted infection in mice.
“When we infected the mice that had these HIV-resistant that had these HIV-resistant immune cells in them, we saw that HIV infection was blocked,” he said.
Anderson’s study uses Timothy Brown as a model. Brown, also known as The Berlin Patient, was cured of HIV after receiving rare HIV-resistant stem cells to treat his leukemia.
“We hope to mimic the same results as scene with the Berlin patient,” he said.
The goal is to give patients new HIV-resistant immune systems.
For now, Curtis plans to continue his therapy for life, and he remains cautiously optimistic.
“It would change all of our lives for the better,” he said.
Researchers hope to begin human clinical trials by the end of the year, but that depends on regulatory approval and funding.