Skip to content

AR LAW Services  |  Lawyers & Consultants  |  Masters of Australian Migration and Visa Law

HIV cure potential after new protein found by Queensland researcher

A protein has been developed in Brisbane which switches off HIV infection in cells, potentially paving the way for a cure for the deadly virus.

Associate Professor David Harrich made the antiviral protein, known as the “Nullbasic”, by mutating an existing HIV protein.

Once HIV-infected cells were treated with the protein, they stopped making virus particles.

Associate Professor Harrich, head of the HIV molecular virology laboratory at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, said the results exceeded his expectations.

“What this means is that a person’s cells would still have HIV in them, but the virus wouldn’t have any effect.

“The virus would be essentially switched off and the cells would no longer make the virus.”

So far the protein has only been used in laboratory tests, since 2009.

Associate Professor Harrich said the next step was to see if they could cure HIV in mice.

As of yet, it is not known at what point the protein is switched off by the protein.

“This protein gives us a way of looking inside cells to find the mechanism for turning off HIV without doing any harm to the cell,” he said.

“In other words, we can get the protein to show us the off switch, then find other ways of flicking the switch.

“Obviously there is a lot more work to be done yet, and there are no guarantees that this protein will form the basis for a cure for HIV.”

In the future, Associate Professor Harrich said the protein could potentially form the basis for a functional cure for HIV, which could be administered as a one-off treatment.

The treatment would be different from currently available antiretroviral drugs, which stop the virus from spreading to other cells, but do not stop individual cells from making the virus.

Currently, patients have to keep taking the drugs long-term. For full story go to


If you or anyone you know is has concerns about their health status or has HIV or has had a  visa refused or cancelled on Health grounds please speak to one of the lawyers at our office for thorough advice on your options.

Call   03 9614 0218 or email

to arrange a free initial 30 Minute consultation at our Melbourne office.

For more go to
Note: this update, or any previous updates on this page, do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Please call our office to seek professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content on this page