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German man cured of HIV-AIDS !!!
Oct 19, 2009

Hi Dr Please keep up the great work you guys do for us hivers,

A german man was recently cured of hiv-aids using stem cells treaments,

my question is why can't we cure more people ???

thank you for your time

Response from Dr. McGowan

Thanks for your question. The case you describe was very interesting and unqiue in some ways.

The man had HIV for some time and had his virus suppressed with meds. He then developed a cancer that needed treatment with a bone marrow transplant (stem cells). HIV needs 2 receptors to attach to T cells (CD4 and a second receptor..usually CCR5). There are some people who are born without the CCR5 receptor on their T cells and these people are relatively resistant to HIV infection. So when the patient needed a bone marrow transplant they found a donor who happened to be a match AND who also lacked the coreceptor. This is very rare (Northern Europeans are most likely to have this factor..and only 1% lack the receptor entirely). They used this marrow in the transplant and the patient built up a new immune system that lacked coreceptors for HIV. His HIV had no where to attach so he is "functionally cured".

Stem cell transplant is not easy and up to one third of people will die during the procedure. This combined with the rarity of finding a suitable donor do not make this a practical treatment for most. Having HIV suppressed with medication has the same end effect without the risk.

The case does prove, however, that we may be able to target HIV through cellular/genetic modification which could open up new strategies to attack the virus.

Hope that clarifies things, Joe



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