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So now that the Berlin patient is cured..how about us?
Dec 13, 2010

Nelson, is there an update on the guy who got cured of AIDS? Can this cure help some of us?

Response from Mr. Vergel

It has been 3.5 years since the american patient with HIV and leukemia who lives in Germany got cured with a stem cell transplant from a person who has resistance to HIV infection (those having heterozygous mutations of the delta 32 CCR5 receptor on the CD4 cell). More on this recent story written by Tim Horn:

Berlin Patient Follow-Up 'Strongly Suggests' HIV Cure

The recent news is that the patient is now out to the media. His name is Timothy Brown and he is 44 years old living in Berlin.

This procedure is very expensive (close to $300,000) and 30 percent of patients can die while receiving it. It is definitely not practical but it has shifted the perception of researchers who are now looking for a cure that could mimic this one but without the huge costs and risks.

Researchers are working at different types of cures:

Sterilizing cure: eliminating all HIV from the body

Functional cure: permanent viral suppression without therapy or drug-free remission

Preventive vaccines

Therapeutic vaccination- Activate transcription of proviral DNA in the presence of ARV treatment

Treatment intensification plus immune-based therapy- ERAMUNE study

Treatment as prevention: universal, widespread use of treatment to radically reduce risk of transmission eventually snuffing out HIV

And Gene Therapies using:

Zinc-finger nucleases, Modified CD4s, Modified stem cells, Anti-HIV ribozymes + siRNA Adoptive T-cell Therapy (Adaptimmune), Others: Antisense, TRIM5a, Myleoablative conditioning likely for most options prior to treatment ( chemotherapy or irradiation is given immediately prior to a transplant with the purpose of helping to eradicate the patient's disease prior to the infusion of stem cells and to suppress immune reactions. The bone marrow can be ablated with dose-levels that cause minimal injury to other tissues).

So, cure research is now hot but underfunded. Only 3 percent of the budget of the NIH for HIV goes to cure research. That is why a non profit activist group is asking all of us to sign a letter to be sent to the head of the NIH to ask for more cure funding. The name of their group is the AIDS Policy Project and web site:

AIDS Policy Project

Sign this letter to Dr Collins asking him to fund cure research

I will give a further update on immune-based therapies after the CROI conference in late February in Boston.

This is an exciting (and hopeful) new world!!

Nelson



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