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November 11, 2010

POZ - POZ Exclusives : AIDSmeds Video: Quest for a Cure - by David Evans

POZ: "On November 3, people living with HIV and their allies gathered in West Hollywood to hear about an exciting new experiment that’s about to get under way. At the meeting, sponsored by the AIDS Policy Project, John Zaia, MD, from the City of Hope in Duarte, California, and Paula Cannon, PhD, from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, explained the potential behind their new approach to curing AIDS: genetically modifying stem cells taken from people living with both HIV and lymphoma to render their immune systems resistant to HIV.If the treatment works, not only would it cure the study participants’ lymphoma, it could also cure their HIV.

"If this sounds far-fetched, it’s not. About three years ago, an enterprising German hematologist named Gero Hütter, MD, decided to do something that had never been done before. He had an HIV-positive patient who had leukemia and needed a bone marrow (stem cell) transplant. Hütter decided to look for a bone marrow donor with a unique characteristic: a genetic defect that makes people highly resistant to HIV infection. He found such a donor and then conducted the transplant. Three years later, the patient has no detectable virus and remains off of all antiretroviral therapy."