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I'm not sure where to ask this-Stem Cell Research..
Nov 25, 2003

I'm not sure which forum to bring this to, but I trust you Doctors can answer my question-if you will.

When Stem Cell Research was Front Page News I thought I had heard grumblings that it could be very benefical to HIV treatment and possibly lead to a cure. Well, since the story died down I lost interest... Until last Thursday, when I learned my Girlfriend is HIV+. Now, I've been looking into Sem Cell Research and havent came across any mention HIV. My question is: Can Stem Cell Research (if approved) give an eniterly new hope to HIV/AIDS Patients?

Thank You, CM

PS: I salute all of you for your tremendous efforts on this forum.

Response from Dr. Pierone

Hello, stem cell research is one of the most interesting and potentially transformational strategies for an almost unlimited array of human diseases. Stem cells are the undifferentiated progenitor cells that have the ability to form a variety of distinct cell types in response to manipulation of their environment. So, for example, stem cells could be coaxed into becoming nascent heart muscle cells which then could be used to improve heart function in someone otherwise destined to die or require a heart transplant. Similarly, stem cells could be stimulated to become neural cells that produce dopamine and delivered to the part of the brain that is deficient in dopamine production in order to help patients with Parkinson's disease. Stem cells for bone marrow replacement, new retina cells for macular degeneration. Think of just about any human disease (including HIV infection) and you can imagine how stem cells might help.

With longstanding HIV infection and AIDS some people have severe bone marrow depletion. Stem cell replacement of bone marrow could conceivably be useful in this setting. AIDS-related lymphoma is another condition that is being studied with stem cell strategies.

The good news is that most people with HIV respond extremely well to medication and don't require stem cells strategies. In my opinion, the future cure of HIV will involve gene therapy and genetic engineering rather than stem cell research. In any case, these fields are in their infancy, but enormously promising.

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