Scientists in Australia say they have found a way to alter a protein in the HIV virus to impede it from spreading around the body, rather than assisting it, which could “potentially cure AIDS.”

Associate Professor David Harrich of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research said that they had been able to modify a protein within the virus to impede it from being able to spread, reports Queerty.

“What we’ve actually done is taken a normal virus protein that the virus needs to grow, and we’ve changed this protein, so that instead of assisting the virus, it actually impedes virus replication—and does it quite strongly,” Professor Harrich said.

“I consider that this is fighting fire with fire,” he continued. “This therapy is potentially a cure for AIDS.”

He went on to discuss two potential methods for finding treatments for HIV and AIDS. He said this new development would not be a cure, but said it could keep HIV at bay, and allow the body’s immune system to continue to function normally.

“You either have to eliminate the virus infection or alternatively you have to eliminate the disease process,” says Harrich. “And that’s what this could do, potentially for a very long time,” Professor Harrich said.

The modified proteins work by preventing proteins in the body from converting to the virus, and was succesful under laboratory conditions.

Animal testing for the treatment is scheduled to start later in 2013.

Last November, figures from the UK Health Protection Agency (HPA) released in National HIV Testing Week showed that a record number of gay and bisexual men were diagnosed with HIV last year.

Earlier that week, GMFA and the NHS announced it had launched a trial lasting until March 2013 that will allow gay and bisexual men in London to have an HIV test without leaving the home.