The long search for the cure for HIV and AIDS may be over. In a recent study, the "super controllers" or the "elite controllers" may be the solution to finally solve the seemingly untreated disease. These people are called as such as they they are the ones infected by HIV but have the natural capability to prevent it from progressing into AIDS.
A patient named Loreen Willenberg was diagnosed with HIV 23 years ago, but she did not suffer from AIDS. Scientists discovered that the HIV of Willenberg did not advance to AIDS despite her not taking any drugs.
She did not experience any symptoms and did not get sick. Like a super power of some sort, she is part of the one percent of all HIV infected patients who are called "super controllers" or "elite controllers."
These people have the ability to naturally contain the HIV virus and avoid it from replicating. They could be the key to finding out the cure for HIV and AIDS. The surprising thing about their ability is that they can control HIV mutation at an almost untraceable level.
"In a clinical sense, I'm not progressing towards AIDS, I'm not progressing towards the disease stage," Willenberg said in an interview with CBS. She already participated in 13 studies in the hope of finding the cure for the dreaded diseases.
"If that happens before I go, then [I] will have, then I know that I have lived a good life," she added.
People with HIV or AIDS have to take a number of drugs just to suppress the disease and prevent it from affecting their immune system. According to Dr. Richard Pollard, Willenberg's physician, the "super controllers'" body has "an effective way of reacting to the virus that it's hard to even detect that they're virus positive."
Scientists believe that the CD8 cells of Willenberg are exceptionally strong since they can regulate the infected CD4 T-cells. HIV usually attacks the CD4 T-cells, which are the white blood cells that protect the body's immune system.
HIV kills those cells in HIV-infected patients while overpowering another type called CD8 T-cells, which are known to protect the body from viral infection.
Studying the "elite controllers" is one way researchers can consider to stop the spread of HIV or AIDS, according to Pollard.