Man free of HIV after transplant

Merc

Certified Shitlord
V.I.P.
#1
A 42-year-old HIV patient with leukemia appears to have no detectable HIV in his blood and no symptoms after a stem cell transplant from a donor carrying a gene mutation that confers natural resistance to the virus that causes AIDS, according to a report published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"The patient is fine," said Dr. Gero Hutter of Charite Universitatsmedizin Berlin in Germany. "Today, two years after his transplantation, he is still without any signs of HIV disease and without antiretroviral medication."


The case was first reported in November, and the new report is the first official publication of the case in a medical journal. Hutter and a team of medical professionals performed the stem cell transplant on the patient, an American living in Germany, to treat the man's leukemia, not the HIV itself.


However, the team deliberately chose a compatible donor who has a naturally occurring gene mutation that confers resistance to HIV. The mutation cripples a receptor known as CCR5, which is normally found on the surface of T cells, the type of immune system cells attacked by HIV.


The mutation is known as CCR5 delta32 and is found in 1 percent to 3 percent of white populations of European descent.


HIV uses the CCR5 as a co-receptor (in addition to CD4 receptors) to latch on to and ultimately destroy immune system cells. Since the virus can't gain a foothold on cells that lack CCR5, people who have the mutation have natural protection. (There are other, less common HIV strains that use different co-receptors.)


People who inherit one copy of CCR5 delta32 take longer to get sick or develop AIDS if infected with HIV. People with two copies (one from each parent) may not become infected at all. The stem cell donor had two copies.


While promising, the treatment is unlikely to help the vast majority of people infected with HIV, said Dr. Jay Levy, a professor at the University of California San Francisco, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study. A stem cell transplant is too extreme and too dangerous to be used as a routine treatment, he said.


"About a third of the people die [during such transplants], so it's just too much of a risk," Levy said. To perform a stem cell transplant, doctors intentionally destroy a patient's immune system, leaving the patient vulnerable to infection, and then reintroduce a donor's stem cells (which are from either bone marrow or blood) in an effort to establish a new, healthy immune system.


Levy also said it's unlikely that the transplant truly cured the patient in this study. HIV can infect many other types of cells and may be hiding out in the patient's body to resurface at a later time, he said.
Source: Man appears free of HIV after stem cell transplant - CNN.com

Like it says at the end of the article, this is not a massive breakthrough, but it is certainly one of the first serious glimmers of light at the end of the AIDS tunnel. I'd imagine a future treatment of AIDS would most likely involve this genetic mutation but we'll see in the coming years.
 

Smelnick

Creeping On You
V.I.P.
#2
That's pretty awesome. Lets hope it doesn't raise questions about stem cell ethics. It's always kind of lame when the activists start protesting about possible life saving techniques simply because developing them risk some lives. Lives that'll die anyway. I'd rather give them some more hope.
 

Merc

Certified Shitlord
V.I.P.
#3
I think if you ask most people where stem cells come from, they only know one answer. They all think that unborn children are the only ways to get stem cells when in truth, they're simply the most viable. We all have stem cells.
 

ILOVEUSA911

Registered Member
#4
Hope is such a wonderful thing. This should give millions of people suffering from AIDS hope that some day, hopefully in the near future, there will be a cure for this horrible disease. Great News.
 

salsanchezfan

Registered Member
#5
This is wonderful news, it's about time something, anything to get rid of this dreaded illness has been developed. Here' hoping the man remains HIV-Free and here's hoping it works for everyone that has it.
 

ysabel

/ˈɪzəˌbɛl/ pink 5
#6
I was very pleased when it was first reported in November. The current medication that seropositive people take can only decrease levels to the point of making it "undetected". However, they're still positive; the treatment doesn't remove it entirely. This is the first case I've heard of a complete reversal. I had thought already that our genes somehow determine our vulnerability to develop AIDS once infected by HIV. There are some seropositive people who have had the virus for decades but never get sick; while others may have the virus only for a few months and develop AIDS right away. Hopefully this transplant findings do facilitate the current studies pursuing the gene angle of eradicating the virus for other infected people.