March 25, 2013
One small but encouraging piece of news about the lone adult considered cured of HIV, Timothy Brown, was to be found in a presentation by Joyce Sanchez from the University of Minnesota (abstract, webcast -- second in session). Sanchez's study focused on lymphoid structure abnormalities in people with HIV, particularly fibrotic (scarring) damage to lymph tissue resulting from persistent HIV replication and associated immune activation. The extent of lymph tissue fibrosis can be quantified by measuring collagen deposition using imaging techniques. Sanchez showed that in gut lymph tissue, even HIV controllers (individuals with low viral loads in the absence of ART) have levels of collagen deposition that are higher than those of uninfected individuals (15.9% compared with 7%). However, samples from Timothy Brown showed levels of collagen deposition comparable to the uninfected study participants (6.8%), consistent with studies showing no HIV activity in his body (despite the occasional detection of viral genetic material that was reported last year).
Richard Jefferys is the coordinator of the Michael Palm HIV Basic Science, Vaccines & Prevention Project Weblog at the Treatment Action Group (TAG). The original blog post may be viewed here.