amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

HIV Study Among Top Ten Breakthroughs of 2020

Science magazine’s annual research list includes landmark study of elite controllers

leadLead author of the study, Dr. Xu YuA groundbreaking study of elite controllers – the small group of people who can control their HIV without medications – has been included by the journal Science in the top ten breakthroughs of 2020 among all fields of scientific research, including biology, physics, chemistry, geology, astronomy and so on.

The research, led by investigators at the Ragon Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, included several co-authors who are members of the amfAR Institute for HIV Cure Research.

Wanting to determine whether the genetic environment into which HIV inserts itself differs between elite controllers (ECs) and others, the researchers compared 64 ECs with 41 HIV-positive people on treatment. They found that the virus in ECs is more likely to be found in “gene deserts,” regions where the HIV remains tightly locked down, unable to replicate.

In a report on the study, amfAR Vice President and Director of Research Dr. Rowena Johnston concluded: “Armed with this new vision of what one kind of cure might look like, researchers will now aim to induce the immune systems of non-controllers to bring about the same result.”

The research was originally published in August in the prestigious journal Nature.