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December 14, 2010

Stem cell transplant has cured HIV infection in 'Berlin patient', say doctors

Aidsmap: "Doctors who carried out a stem cell transplant on an HIV-infected man with leukaemia in 2007 say they now believe the man to have been cured of HIV infection as a result of the treatment, which introduced stem cells which happened to be resistant to HIV infection.

"The man received bone marrow from a donor who had natural resistance to HIV infection; this was due to a genetic profile which led to the CCR5 co-receptor being absent from his cells. The most common variety of HIV uses CCR5 as its ‘docking station’, attaching to it in order to enter and infect CD4 cells, and people with this mutation are almost completely protected against infection.

"The case was first reported at the 2008 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston, and Berlin doctors subsequently published a detailed case history in the New England Journal of Medicine in February 2009.

"They have now published a follow-up report in the journal Blood, arguing that based on the results of extensive tests, “It is reasonable to conclude that cure of HIV infection has been achieved in this patient.”"

Note: See lots of comments on Twitter (you do NOT need a Twitter account):!/search/HIV-positive. As noted above, this cure has been discussed for some time. The new article in the journal Blood reported the latest failure to find any evidence of HIV in the patient. And the bone-marrow stem-cell transplant has permanently changed the Berlin Patient's blood to that of the donor, who has a fairly rare mutation that gives almost complete immunity to HIV infection.