Bone Marrow Transplants Rid Two Men of HIV
July 3, 2013 1:04 PM
But they're not calling it a cure quite yet
HIV patients have new
hope for a cure
as two men recently became HIV-free with bone marrow transplants.
Doctors at the
Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Centre
in Boston performed bone marrow transplants on two men with HIV, and neither have had to use Aids drugs for extended periods of time since the operations.
One of the men has had HIV since he was a baby while the other became infected years ago. Both men received bone marrow transplants in Boston, where their cells were replaced by those of the donors.
Doctors have been checking the men regularly for signs of HIV
in both blood cells
and tissue, and the virus has fallen to an undetectable level in both men.
What's more is that one
stopped taking antiretroviral medication
four months ago while the other quit seven weeks ago. Still no sign of the virus.
However, Timothy Henrich -- from the division of infectious diseases at Brigham -- said not to celebrate a cure quite yet. While the virus isn't detectable in blood or tissue, it could be hiding in other places like organs and reappear later.
Even if the virus doesn't reappear, bone marrow transplants are not something to be taken lightly. There is a 15-20 percent mortality rate and patients must take immunosuppressive drugs for the rest of their lives (which prevent the immune system from performing normal duties, such as fighting off infections).
"While these results are exciting, they do not yet indicate that the men have been cured," said Henrich. "Long-term follow up of at least one year will be required to understand the full impact of a bone marow transplant on HIV persistence."
Nevertheless, this is a great finding that could lead to a better understanding of the virus, better treatments and eventually (hopefully) a cure.
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