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Study Reveals Why Only 1 Person Has Been Cured of HIV

Friday, 26 September 2014 02:53 PM

Only one person is believed to have been cured of HIV — the "Berlin patient" Timothy Ray Brown. But scientists have been unable to determine why and which aspect of Brown's treatment may have cured him.

Now a new experiment on monkeys is providing evidence that a rare genetic mutation in the person who donated bone marrow to Brown may have had a central role in his cure, the LiveScience Website reports.
Brown's HIV was eradicated in 2007 after he underwent a treatment in Germany for his leukemia, including radiation to kill the cancer cells and stem cells in his bone marrow, and then a bone-marrow transplant from a healthy donor to generate new blood cells.
After the treatment, not only was Brown's leukemia in remission, his HIV levels also plummeted to undetectable levels, and they have remained so ever since, even though he has not been taking the antiretroviral (ART) drugs typically used to keep HIV levels low in patients.
Scientists now say one reason the virus remains undetectable in Brown is  that the bone-marrow transplant was from a donor who had a rare genetic mutation that renders a person's CD4-T cells — the immune cells that are the main target of HIV infection — resistant to the virus.
But it is also possible that radiation killed very nearly all of Brown's cells that contained HIV at the outset of his treatment or that the new immune cells (that were produced by transplanted bone-marrow cells) attacked Brown's original cells, in what is called "graft-versus-host disease."

This could have killed any HIV reservoirs within Brown that had survived his radiation treatment.
In a small study, Guido Silvestri, M.D., a pathologist at Emory University in Atlanta, and colleagues gave the same treatment that Brown was given to three monkeys infected with Simian-Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
The researchers found that radiation killed most of the animals' blood and immune cells, including up to 99 percent of their CD4-T cells. But they also determined the transplant resulted in the generation of HIV-free blood and immune cells within a few weeks, showing that the bone-marrow transplant experiment in monkeys was successful.

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Only one person is believed to have been cured of HIV, but scientists have been unable to determine why. Until now.
hiv, cured, person, explained, aids
Friday, 26 September 2014 02:53 PM
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