Bone Marrow Transplants May Prove HIV Cure
There was very encouraging news at the 19th International AIDS Conference recently held in Washington DC as scientists from Harvard reported that two patients in Boston who have undergone bone marrow transplants seem to be cured of the HIV infection, reports ABC.
The success of their transplants may signal a new avenue of hope and treatment for other AIDS patients.
“We expected HIV to vanish from the patients’ plasma, but it is surprising that we can’t find any traces of HIV in their cells,” said Dr. Timothy Henrich, one of the researchers studying the two men. “It suggests that under the cover of anti-retroviral therapy, the cells that repopulated the patient’s immune system appear to be protected from becoming re-infected with HIV.”
Usually people with HIV are taken off their anti-retrovirals before cancer treatment, NBC News reported.
These patients are following in the footsteps of Timothy Ray Brown, known in medical circles as The Berlin Patient, who had a bone marrow transplant done in Germany five years ago and is the first patient known to have been completely cured of AIDS.
Researchers cautioned that this approach probably won’t work for everyone with HIV, NBC News reported.
Further study will need to be done to prove that the two patients are truly cured.
“Studies over time including biopsies of lymphatic tissue would be required,” said Dr. Michael Saag, an infectious disease expert from University of Alabama at Birmingham.
The findings were presented Thursday at the AIDS 2012 conference in Washington, D.C.