Science magazine has named the clinical trial (NIAID HPTN 052) led by UNC professor Myron Cohen, M.D., as the scientific breakthrough of the year…
Science magazine has named the clinical trial (NIAID HPTN 052) led by UNC professor Myron Cohen, M.D., as the scientific breakthrough of the year. Dr. Cohen and his team of fellow researchers demonstrated treatment of healthier HIV+ individuals (those with CD4+ T cell counts of between 350- 550 cells/mm3 as opposed to those with cell counts of 250 cells/mm3 or an AIDS-related event) with antiretroviral therapy substantially reduced risk of viral transmission to uninfected partners. The study had been set to conclude in 2015, but the interim findings were clear that earlier treatment reduced transmission by an astounding 96%. From the article in Science, Julio Montaner, from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver stated that HPTN 052:
“has persuaded leaders such as U.S. President Barack Obama—whose administration recently announced a policy goal of creating “an AIDS-free generation”—to take action. “Clinicians and policymakers are always asking for the ultimate evidence,” Montaner says. “HPTN 052 was the unequivocal piece of the puzzle to close any doubts.”
Before PHTN 052, the primary focus in HIV research had been to try to find vaccines and antiviral therapies that could prevent HIV infection and control viral load. Unfortunately, this strategy proved to be ineffective so far. The HPTN 052 clinical trial consisted of a consortium of 19 investigators, led by UNC, Chapel Hill. Dr. Cohen is the J. Herbert Bate Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology and Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.