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A First Step Toward a Cure for AIDS? Novel Procedure Appears to Have Eliminated HIV

November 5, 2008

We need a cure for AIDS. We can't treat our way out of this epidemic. Anti-HIV therapy is a lifelong commitment, accompanied by many life-altering and some potentially life-threatening side effects. And for every person placed on treatment, two to three are newly infected. In 2007 alone there were 2.7 million new infections, and only 31 percent of those who needed treatment received it. Viral reservoirs -- cells and tissues in which HIV remains dormant, beyond the reach of anti-HIV drugs but poised to grow at any moment -- persist for the life of an infected person. And while all currently available anti-HIV drugs suppress the virus, they cannot eliminate it.

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Visit amfAR's website to find out more about their activities and publications.
 
See Also
A Doctor, a Mutation and a Potential Cure for AIDS (From the Wall Street Journal)
More on Gene Therapy for HIV/AIDS

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Doug (United States) Wed., Jan. 28, 2009 at 12:13 am EST
Unfortunately,
I have dealt with Big Pharma and what people have to understand is that as long as the money is in TREATING the disease there will never be a cure. Take for example that the company that comes out with the cure makes 1.00 per person cured, the ratio would be about 695.00 per person treated. Unless more letters are written to congress about getting a cure it will never happen. Prevention is a wonderful thing but a cure would save millions of lives. I am HIV negative but I understand that if the cure is not pushed for treatment will be the answer for the next 100 years. Write to your senators and DEMAND the CURE. Big Pharma does NOT WANT A CURE. They want the MONEY from TREATMENT.
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Comment by: YAMAMOTO Mon., Dec. 22, 2008 at 1:16 pm EST
Yamamoto claimed hiv eradication in vivo.

J Med Virol. 2009 Jan

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19031451
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Comment by: George (New York City) Fri., Dec. 19, 2008 at 11:34 pm EST
I hope this case amounts to something permanent. If this works for others we will be on our way to major progress. For one year since developing the HIV-positive disease and immediately receiving meds, I have seen and felt such dramatic changes. I miss my old body and self-esteem. I hope by 35 I will have it again! Let's keep the faith!
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Comment by: Rach (England, UK) Wed., Dec. 17, 2008 at 9:01 am EST
Have they not tried this with any more patients? Why is there no more news on this! I spoke to my consultant about this and he was very sceptical about this. Is there anyway for us to pay to get this done?!
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Comment by: jKR (San Francisco) Fri., Dec. 12, 2008 at 10:07 am EST
Someone remarked: What does Obama have to do with this...nothing directly. But when we get Bush the Bozo out of the white house and get someone who can support scientific advances and stem cell research then I have high hopes that lots of discoveries can be made! Did you know that there is fear and intimidation at the NIH under this administration? That researchers are stymied? It's bad and reports will come out when Bozo is out!
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Comment by: Alex (Philly, PA) Sat., Dec. 6, 2008 at 2:35 am EST
i hope and pray that a cure will be found very soon, here's a link to some more promising hope for a hiv/aids vaccine

http://www.nowpublic.com/health/achilles-heel-hiv-found
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Comment by: Larry (Raleigh, NC) Tue., Dec. 2, 2008 at 4:40 pm EST
Comments from rednecks like "Jim" are hilarious. I propose mandatory sterilization for morons.
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Comment by: Michele (New York) Mon., Dec. 1, 2008 at 1:28 pm EST
20 odd years of death is more than enough. please, let's end this. Find a CURE.
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Comment by: Jeffrey (sydney) Mon., Dec. 1, 2008 at 9:35 am EST
I think HIV has killed too many people, and the haart meds kill you slowly............

It's CURE TIME and we want it now...........
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Comment by: sw (phoenix, az) Sun., Nov. 30, 2008 at 11:08 am EST
Jim you should do some more research on what stem cells actually are and when they are harvested. Perhaps head to a local university and read some actual scientific journals. There is no killing of children during birth involved, and that is a dangerous misconception for someone to have. Incidentally, what are your thoughts on IVF clinics? Are they "selfish and wicked," too?
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Comment by: pch (HOUSTON MO CITY) Fri., Nov. 28, 2008 at 8:48 pm EST
After 20 years of AIDS and HIV, most of us should be more careful and smarter in our sexual practices. The existence of AIDS has been swept under the rug. I guess if Rock Hudson or Arthur Ashe were recent deaths we would remember. Education, into prevention (and maybe even talk of abstinence) should be on the agenda of every parent, educator, preacher, pastor, healthcare provider and citizen of the world. Research, should be the priority of every nation. Scientist must continue, and governments must continue to fund research into cures for HIV/AIDS. Hopefully, someone will soon be able to put all the pieces together in the puzzle in the mystery of the disease we call HIV/AIDS and a cure can be found.
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Comment by: K. (LA, CA) Wed., Nov. 26, 2008 at 8:05 pm EST
I hope this works. Maybe I can be free of HIV one day.
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Comment by: Mark (NY) Wed., Nov. 26, 2008 at 4:16 am EST
Go and get tested for RRC5 delta32, be a donor to HIV positive. The second person cured will bring funds to this research you cannot imagine. First virus cleaning means that WE DID DISCOVER THE CURE. Second means that WE WILL GET THE MONEY to make it available.
I guess it should be less than a year. (Imagine that that transplantation is like 20 months old already and totally confirmed he is negative now without meds. Germany is not Zimbabwe.) We should now make a donor receptor virtual platform for gay people.
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Comment by: Eddy (United Kingdom.) Tue., Nov. 25, 2008 at 5:02 am EST
Abby, you've clearly got a lot of "God" going on in your mind. (By the way, you don't mention exactly WHICH ONE. Remember, primitive peoples all over the earth have invented a WHOLE RANGE of different gods over the years in order to easily answer their complex questions.) Because you appear to think that people think Obama is "a messiah," I suspect you're probably a Christian. (Christian heads are full of notions of a messiah.) Anyway, the point of this post is to assure you that rational people do not perceive Obama as "The Messiah," but they do perceive that he will free up the path of progress in the United States and that will be of great assistance to many different strands of scientific and medical research.
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Comment by: Abby (San Diego, California) Mon., Nov. 24, 2008 at 2:07 pm EST
I am glad they are looking for a cure. But to put all our hopes/faith that just because Obama was elected as President that the US and the entire world will enter a golden age is absolutely stupid. Obama is NOT God nor a savior to anyone. We already have one and deep down you know it. God desires us to be healthy and happy according to his will. However, we put men like Obama or Clinton or other leaders ahead of what God says he wants from us, and everyone wonders why the world is in the mess it is -- not just diseases but war and all wickedness. I am not against Obama being President just don't expect me to hail him as a Messiah like many do. In fact, God appoints whom he will as Kings and Rulers of the Nations for his plan, not man. Seek God first and his way and all things will follow for the good.
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Comment by: Jim (Tulsa OK) Mon., Nov. 24, 2008 at 1:47 pm EST
I am all for research. As for stem cell research, I am totally against killing a child during birth just to use them for stem cell treatment. That is selfish and wicked.

"As to diseases,
make a habit of two things—
to help, or at least do no harm."
--- Hippocrates, The Epidemics ---

http://www.stemcellresearch.org/
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Comment by: felicia Ajao (Nigeria) Mon., Nov. 24, 2008 at 10:30 am EST
I am happy that people are making efforts to get a cure, they should consider non toxic, non surgery and what can be affordable, I understand,from a write up that this may be a sham, as there was once a bone marrow transplant that worked well for a while, latter the patient had millions of viral load and eventually died. please, this is a very serious issue that must be taken seriously. All the governments in the world should set aside some percentage of their budget annually for this because the U.S govt has been doing so well with the PEPFAR thing. God bless them. If not, half of our population would have died.
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Comment by: Karl Mon., Nov. 24, 2008 at 4:51 am EST
And let's not get too happy, people. Yes we NEED a cure, but at what cost?
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Comment by: Karl (fresno) Mon., Nov. 24, 2008 at 4:41 am EST
It's great news, but how can we afford 200.000/ Paying for med is one thing but a 200,000 price tag is something that I don't think everyone's medical coverage will pay.
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Comment by: Eddy (United Kingdom) Fri., Nov. 21, 2008 at 5:40 am EST
Arthur Gittleman, you have been led to think that we should be happy to combat HIV by simply taking tablets every day, just as we eat food every day and breathe air. You appear to think that HIV medications (if adhered to, etc) are totally effective, that as long as one gets an "undetectable" reading one is in a fine state. For you to see that this is not so, firstly go to the website http://www.patientslikeme.com/hiv and examine people's records there: you will see that although we are on ART and "undetectable" many of us still have awful things to deal with daily because of HIV. Secondly, go to http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081114134921.htm and read of the recent research which has shown that "the powerful antiviral drugs that keep many HIV patients healthy for years don't completely eradicate the virus from the body and in the brain even the very low levels that remain cause relentless damage. . . . Suddenly the brain environment turns from nurturing to toxic, and the brain has to work much harder to send messages. Cells are on overdrive, spending a lot more energy to do the same things they used to do easily." Many of us are experiencing distressing cognitive problems.

HIV has to be CURED. Just swallowing these tablets every day IS NOWHERE NEAR ENOUGH.
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Comment by: Bhre (Indonesia) Fri., Nov. 21, 2008 at 2:37 am EST
Transplant and the invention of new chemical medicine might be not the solution for AIDS. Please take a look at :

http://www.the-scientist.com/community/post/list/148.page

http://www.the-scientist.com/community/post/list/171.page
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Comment by: Marcos (Brazil) Thu., Nov. 20, 2008 at 8:08 am EST
Wow! It´s one more great piece of information involving possible cellular therapy against the disease in less than a month! The another one is about the "kill cells" produced by genetic engineering. The former, a real 'in vivo' fact whereas the latter, only an 'in vitro' test. Together, they sum up more knowledge to scientific efforts and maybe they can enhance a less life-threatening treatment for HIV. Hopefully soon!
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Comment by: Arthur Gittleman (Bella Vista, AR) Thu., Nov. 20, 2008 at 7:35 am EST
I do clinical research in FIV and have no interest in cures. I did have one FIV positive that turned negative but do not consider that a cure. More interested in FIV that is advanced and the damaged caused. I do not recommend using HIV drugs on a cat since they are both toxic and have resistance. I used herbal formula which does not have resistance and noting like the toxic problems HIV drugs. Using combination of three NRTI's that failed then using herbal formula a FIV virus was weakened and the result was undetectable using herbs. Mutations weaken the virus. I can understand the interest in cure sense the HIV drug treatment is such a pain to those using it. If this drug treatment was more effective it would not matter if you had to take it for lifetime as we also eat food for lifetime and don't find that a problem. Supplements are food additives that treat FIV, so why the interest in cure? My FIV cat that I own and treat has FIV 8 and 1/2 years now and is still healthy and still young and expect him to continue that way for a few more years.

What I find is the problem with veterinarians who still think there is no treatment for FIV. The field is one big mess.
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Comment by: Eddy (United KIngdom) Thu., Nov. 20, 2008 at 6:02 am EST
Rob, you ask what Obama has got to do with this. I'll answer your question for you.

There are many creative people who have quit other nations on earth (including European countries like the UK) in order to live and work in the United States. Why? Because there is MORE positive creativity, more "what-if" and "why-not" in the USA, more chance of ideas and leads getting off the ground and coming to fruition.

It is SO easy to be negative and cynical and shoot exciting possibilities out of the sky, and that KILLS development and creativity. It stops it dead in its tracks. But now that Obama is to be President the overall level of possibility in the US has clearly surged forward.

Yes, there's unfortunately a widespread recession on too AND negative forces are still at work, as in the Prop 8 victory, BUT, as I say, the overall level of positiveness in the world's most creative country has just risen considerably. This WILL help all those professionals in the USA who are working in AIDS research - and there are many more professionals working in AIDS research in the USA than in any other country on earth.

So now you know.
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Comment by: Mike Nelson (Peterborough, England) Thu., Nov. 20, 2008 at 5:27 am EST
Although this may have worked for the patient, we should remember that HIV has 2 entry points. 95% uses the CCR5 (which the delta32 blocks by removing the presence of CCR5 on t-cells) and the CXCR4, which is unaffected by the delta32 gene.

Although gene therapy would be a cheaper and more efficient way of introducing the delta32 and hence removal of the CCR5 from people's blood cells and confer some immunity we should remember...

HIV is a living organism and adapting all the time. If the sources of CCR5 as an infection entry point are removed, then the CXCR4 version will become prevalent and that has NO genetic removal function that we are aware of yet.

Unless there can be an established route by which both CXCR4 and CCR5 entry point can be removed together by gene therapy this will NOT work for the large majority of the population.

It should be noted the the man who is currently 'cured' may become reinfected if he is unlucky with a CXCR4 tropic variant of the HIV virus and will then continue with active HIV growth and need to be put back onto HIV antiretrovirals.


This is a glimmer but not a treatment option until we can remove both the CCR5 and CXCR4 entry points for HIV on the t-cells and even then HIV is sneaky enough that it may invent a third unknown entry method.
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Comment by: colin (uk) Thu., Nov. 20, 2008 at 4:31 am EST
Well, once again my hopes are up, having been dashed to pieces after KP-1461 ... I want this stuff out of my body.
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Comment by: Nick Heow (Malaysia) Thu., Nov. 20, 2008 at 4:02 am EST
Yes, we need a cure. We have waited many years for news that bring us hope instead of new medication that bring unknown side effects.
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Comment by: Robert (Palm Springs, Ca.) Thu., Nov. 20, 2008 at 2:07 am EST
The gentleperson is from Uganda. He believes like many in the World, that "Obama" is part of a universal shift, which he is. I too believe great things will be achieved in this universal shift in energy and thought throughout the world.
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Comment by: hopeful (new jersey) Wed., Nov. 19, 2008 at 10:47 pm EST
This is very hopeful. For once we have something to hope in with this disease. I know i will be praying everyday and look to this as a positive step for a new beginning for mankind. Let's not screw this second chance up if we get it....
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Comment by: Teo (Vancouver, BC CANADA) Wed., Nov. 19, 2008 at 10:46 pm EST
Hope runs thin for those of us whose lives have been changed forever by this chronic illness. As a people we must not stop until the CURE for HIV-disease in in our hands worldwide. We must continue to demand that science does not become arrogant as a result of the treatment gains of recent years. Many have died so that we could find a CURE, not simply treatments on the way to CURE. Many of those then experimental treatments further injured many of those who took them early on. We need help from each other to continue until the stigma of HIV disease is eradicated from human memory. Anything less than CURE is unacceptable.The price of CURE should not be considered in the CURE equation, nor should geographic residence. This is a world wide concern and it is time we demand that all of the governments in the word take us seriously. Perhaps, even as seriously as the economic bailouts of recent days.
CURE+IMMUNE RECONSTITUTION = LIFE.
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Comment by: Thorben (Hamburg, Germany) Wed., Nov. 19, 2008 at 9:52 pm EST
Gero Hütter's own words may paraphrase the situation best: treating an HIV-infection by the means of a stem cell transplantation in the way he and his colleagues carried it out on the now "famous" American patient is - due to the high cost, the complicate procedure etc. - certainly not a therapy available to everybody tomorrow, neither the day after tomorrow, but an approach having the potential to generate promising new therapies for the mass.
Besides this, we should not forget that this therapy, regardless of how complicated it may be, means having an additional - and seemingly highly potent - weapon already now, doubtless crucial to those having run out of other options. FELICITATION TO BERLIN!
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Comment by: Mark (China) Wed., Nov. 19, 2008 at 9:47 pm EST
Of course this is a major breakthrough, but let's be reasonable, this man had leukemia and received treatment of which the survival rate is low. Of course, if science can replicate the process without the need for such invasion of the body, then perhaps a cure is achievable. Hopefully, the new U.S. Administration will allow stem cell research to advance medical discovery, rather than the Bush administration's preference to let life be killed on foreign soil. If we spent 10% of the cost of a pointless war on medical research, then not just HIV would be eradicated so would many other diseases that plague mankind.
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Comment by: nige (London, UK) Wed., Nov. 19, 2008 at 9:21 pm EST
This is great news. Also worth research are the use of Quantum Bio-feedback (SCIO) and the root herb Astragalus. See the CNN report.
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Comment by: Bob (TN) Mon., Nov. 17, 2008 at 7:26 pm EST
What does Obama have to do with it??
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Comment by: tofas (uganda) Mon., Nov. 17, 2008 at 1:55 am EST
This is all comimg in Obama's time. I have a belief that a cure will be found in Obama's times. Good research, doctor.
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Comment by: Steven (Pensacola,FL) Sun., Nov. 16, 2008 at 12:14 am EST
I think that this is wonderful news -- a possible step in the right direction. If I understand genes and stem cell research at all, the price would drop once they can clone the cells instead of looking for a donor each time one is needed. Again though, I have been very sick before but am doing well now. The best course of action for each person is to live as if there is no cure on the horizon, take your meds and if it happens....great. If it doesn't, then it doesn't. Don't count those chicken before they hatch!
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Comment by: Don (Davie, FL) Sat., Nov. 15, 2008 at 12:38 pm EST
It saddens me to read people's comments here. It seems most people assume treatment of this one individual is a long-term cure. Doctors and scientists do not entirely understand viral reservoirs and how to eliminate these reservoirs. We have all assumed the commonly accepted theory of 3-6 month latency period is accurate. Continued study of this individual by amfARs 10 clinical AIDS experts may discover latency period as long as 5 years or more. Has genetic engineering advanced to the point where this individuals body will continue to create delta32 CCR5 receptors? Research should focus on why delta32 mutation Caucasians are completely resistant to infection by the most common forms of HIV. Answer the question of why delta32 mutation Caucasians are completely resistant to infection by most common forms of HIV and the cure will follow.
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Comment by: Dan (TX) Sat., Nov. 15, 2008 at 4:42 am EST
I hope this will be true so I can have children with my HIV negative wife. I hope the study will go forward not to disappear like KP-1461.
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Comment by: Ireland (ireland) Sat., Nov. 15, 2008 at 2:55 am EST
OK folks, that man has been cured, but now it's time to understand what it has happened to the eternal HIV DNA cells. Don't forget that Siliciano said, that the blips and viremia come from the - eternal - latent reservoirs that should be found in all hiv people. Why they can not find HIV DNA cell in any place? 600 days are a period along enough, and I suppose that the time has come to change the theories on the latency.
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Comment by: well wisher (ca) Fri., Nov. 14, 2008 at 11:35 pm EST
OH PLZ DO SOMETHING! FIND A CURE SO I CAN LIVE WITH MY DAUGHTER AND SEE HER FINISHING HIGH SCHOOL, GETTING MARRIED AND HAVING KIDS.
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Comment by: nicole (arlington va) Fri., Nov. 14, 2008 at 6:22 pm EST
i read this and i cried. i think that it is wonderful. Reading this gives me hope. and i am praying that this will be avaliable to us very soon and that the research is continued.
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Comment by: George Chaima (The Dalles, USA) Fri., Nov. 14, 2008 at 3:17 pm EST
It could be helpful if donor agencies could make funds available for poor countries especially Africa where the pandemic has reached critical stage.
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Comment by: Joe (Chicago) Fri., Nov. 14, 2008 at 2:10 pm EST
This will be the one of the greatest achievments in human history. Finding a cure for HIV/AIDS be in the same category of landing on the moon.
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Comment by: Lea (Mississippi) Thu., Nov. 13, 2008 at 5:59 pm EST
This is such good news! Hopefully, scientists/doctors can get together and first, make sure this is a cure, and second if it is, somehow make it available to everyone -- not just the wealthy.
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Comment by: Clay Ledoux (Houston, TX) Thu., Nov. 13, 2008 at 5:36 pm EST
Excellent if true. Fight for the cure again and nothing less!
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Comment by: A.H. (Minneapolis, MN) Thu., Nov. 13, 2008 at 4:38 pm EST
This article MUST be forwarded to the Obama administration MANY MANY MANY times! He must end the ban on Stem Cell research in the U.S. and let these scientists do their important work of finding this cure!
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Comment by: kelli bixby (san antonio texas) Thu., Nov. 13, 2008 at 4:02 pm EST
people should read this with caution. as an hiv educator, i am very aware of the dangers of false information.
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Comment by: Eddy (United Kingdom) Thu., Nov. 13, 2008 at 12:19 pm EST
This is so exciting. I read this story in the mainstream news, but it did not contain the encouraging news that "amfAR quickly called together 10 experts in clinical AIDS, stem cell transplantation, and HIV virology for a two-day think tank at the MIT Endicott House to evaluate these data."

It's so good to hear that there are scientists and medics out there who are jumping on news like this and being possibly ready to take appropriate action.

May a cure be found and our lives returned to us!
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Comment by: Max (Piscataway, NJ) Thu., Nov. 13, 2008 at 11:00 am EST
Very encouraging findings. We need to fund these promising research findings and others like the one in Texas Unv. and the hemo-modulator (NY). These are novel for sure and no stone should be left unturned.
People can donate money for these research if carefully mobilized.
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