Man cured from HIV!
I went to a review session for genetics today. And a brilliant, well everyone older than me here seems brilliant, but a very smart professor announced out of nowhere that there had been a cure for AIDS. So, at first I didn't question it.
As far as he seems concerned it was a done deal. I though 'How exciting'.
On the drive home I started thinking about the one case report in more detail. The report in the New England Journal of Medicine reports a man, who was positive for HIV, was cured (so far so good...) in the process of being treated for Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a cancer of the blood. They basically replaced all his bone marrow, the source of the cancer, with a donor's marrow. But, this donor had special bone marrow. In order for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) to infect people, it must enter the cell through a specific "door". This donor, didn't have "the door". So, overtime the virus lost access to the cells of this man and he is now off of the antiretroviral drugs he'd been on previously.
It's a complicated, expensive, and risky procedure. There's no way that this exact treatment could completely eliminate HIV, like the polio vaccine did polio. Or, really even make a dent. But, I've come to appreciate the fact that all research is a start. A small step in the right direction. If anything, it's a great success story for the doctor and his colleagues. You know, one you'd bring up over Christmas dinner this year.
Of course, there have been many other leads in the quest for finding a cure. This is just the first time someone has actually been cured. So, it's still kind of exciting.
It's (the article) free online if you're interested in reading more about the case...Click here.
"Our findings underscore the central role of the CCR5 receptor during HIV-1 infection and disease progression and should encourage further investigation of the development of CCR5-targeted treatment options."
(Long-Term Control of HIV by CCR5 Delta32/Delta32 Stem-Cell Transplantation. Gero Hütter, M.D., Daniel Nowak, M.D., Maximilian Mossner, B.S., Susanne Ganepola, M.D., Arne Müßig, M.D., Kristina Allers, Ph.D., Thomas Schneider, M.D., Ph.D., Jörg Hofmann, Ph.D., Claudia Kücherer, M.D., Olga Blau, M.D., Igor W. Blau, M.D., Wolf K. Hofmann, M.D., and Eckhard Thiel, M.D. N Engl J Med 2009; 360:692-698)