Stem cell transplant ‘cures’ HIV


A US cancer patient who received a stem cell transplant has been cured of HIV, said a team of German doctors whose research was published in the peer-reviewed journal Blood on Wednesday.

“Our results strongly suggest that cure of HIV has been achieved in this patient,” said the study.

The results suggest the first such cure for the virus that causes AIDS, though experts caution it may not be safe or feasible for the wider population.

The subject of the study, an American in his 40s who is often referred to as the “Berlin patient,” received a stem cell transplant as treatment for acute myeloid leukemia in 2007.

The stem cells came from a donor with a rare gene mutation that makes it impossible to contract HIV.

The study showed no sign of HIV more than two years after the transplant, even though the patient had ceased anti-retroviral therapy to suppress HIV.

The research team was led by Kristina Allers and Gero Hutter at Charite – University Medicine Berlin.

Commenting on the findings to the Miami Herald, US AIDS researcher Margaret Fischl said the process was too radical for use in the general public, and carries harsh side effects, but showed promise toward developing other cures.

“I would call this a functional cure,” Fischl was quoted as saying. “It’s on the level and a very remarkable case. But would we do this with an HIV patient? No.”

The journal Blood is a publication of the American Society of Hematology.

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