Prof. Ravindra Gupta - Fighting HIV Drug Resistance
Understanding how HIV works within cells is a key step in understanding how we're going to clear this virus.
HIV is a virus and it infects cells - it's a survival strategy. The reason it's so successful is that this is a virus that is very poor at making copies of its own genetic material and it makes a lot of mistakes when it copies itself. And so what it does is it uses mutation as a way of generating a lot of diversity within its genetic makeup in order to avoid the immune system, for example, and to make copies of itself that can't be targeted by our own host defenses.
In today’s episode, Professor Ravindra Gupta and I are talking about the case of the London Patient – the second adult worldwide, after the Berlin patient, that received full HIV remission. We also touch upon drug resistance, a global threat that is becoming more and more known.
Ravindra Gupta is Professor of Clinical Microbiology and Wellcome Trust Senior Fellow in Clinical Science at the University of Cambridge. He is also faculty at Africa Health Research Institute in Durban, South Africa, and he was formerly Professor at the University College London between 2016 - 2019.
Professor Gupta is an infectious diseases clinician, with a specific focus on HIV. His training includes public health and molecular virology, and the interplay between the restriction factor tetherin, and the HIV gene VPU. Most of his work, since, has focused on antiretroviral therapy for the treatment of HIV, and he has led a number of studies, both clinical and in vitro, aimed at addressing the global emerging threat of drug-resistant HIV.
So, listen to Episode 10 of Positively Alive, to learn about the reasons why the treatment used for the London Patient cannot be used at larger scales, to cure all the HIV positive people.
Questions I ask:
- What do all these attempts teach you about the possibility of looking for new strategies to actually find a cure? (09:46)
- You've mentioned gene therapy as a possible alternative for finding a cure for HIV. What's your exact standpoint on this? (15:37)
- What can we tell people living with HIV and also people not living with HIV about the prospects of a cure? (17:30)
- What does the future hold for you? (25:09)
- Is there one last message you would have for people living with HIV? (26:08)
In this episode, you will learn:
- The story of the HIV Positive person in the UK, who was the second adult worldwide to be cleared of HIV. (03:36)
- About the controversial case of the researcher from China who used gene editing on embryos to create babies who would be resistant to catching HIV. (16:13)
- The meaning of drug resistance and the factors that lead to such resistance. (18:14)
- The impact, worldwide, of developing drug resistance. (20:14)
- Professor Ravindra’s opinion on HIV stigma. (23:16)