German doctors are claiming to have cured a patient of the HIV infection after he underwent a stem cell transplant.
The patient, U.S. citizen Timothy Ray Brown, received the stem cell transplant after his leukemia relapse in 2007. His donor carried a gene mutation that makes HIV contraction less likely. In other words, the cells were HIV resistant.
Three years later, Brown is HIV free.
Dr. Gero Hütter, the doctor behind the treatment, says, “For me it is important to have overthrown the dogma that HIV can never be cured. Something like this is the greatest thing one can achieve in medical research.”
Brown received a CD4 cell transplant. His donor lacked CCR5 receptors, which HIV uses in order to infect the system. When transplanted into Brown, the CD4 cells repopulated to twice the amount present in a healthy person, and his CCR5 receptors disappeared.
To become HIV-free, Brown had to undergo chemotherapy and take immunosuppressive drugs for 38 months. He also developed a neurological problem that caused temporary blindness and memory loss. Needless to say, the procedure isn’t perfect. It’s expenseive and the case doesn’t burn a clear path to an HIV cure.
But in the end, it’s definitely significant progress. Stem cell research will now have clearer focus on creating HIV resistant cells.
And there’s no hope that this information has given tangible hope for many HIV patients, and their family and friends, to hold on to.
Article by Black Woman Speaks
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