Bone Marrow Transplants Rid Two Men of HIV
July 3, 2013 1:04 PM
comment(s) - last by
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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RE: Come a long way
7/3/2013 4:54:52 PM
What's even better is that scientists have used belly fat cells to produce stem cells that could then be converted to marrow cells. Eventually, people could actually have they bone marrow replaced with cell that have their own genetic code, removing the need for immunosuppressive drugs, and get a liposuction while they're at it.
RE: Come a long way
7/5/2013 4:48:20 AM
That won't work. The HIV is "cured" because the marrow from the donors creates blood that is immune to it (i.e. the donors are already immune). If the marrow had their own code, it would make the same susceptible blood they had before.
RE: Come a long way
7/9/2013 11:47:13 AM
You have no idea what you are talking about so please just stop. The donor marrow is not "immune" to HIV/AIDS, it just doesn't have the infection. The purpose of a bone marrow transplant is to wipe out your own immune system completely (or as near complete as possible) and then get someone else's marrow (after the waiting period to clear the body of the chemotherapeutics). This is called an allogenic transplant and is common in diseases/conditions where the body has already been compromised. The more attractive transplant type is where you can harvest your own cells ahead of time, then nuke your body, and then put the harvested cells back in. This is much less risky since your body will not reject the transplant, where you can have graft vs. host disease with someone else's marrow. But obviously in this situation that is not feasible.
Also the number's quoted for mortality are artificially high due to the condition most people are in when going through this procedure. They are typically old(er), with several contributing factors that may cause death not associated with the actual transplant. And for the donor's themselves there is VERY little risk of serious complications.
I urge everyone that is not a bone marrow donor (www.bethematch.org)to become one. It's a simple and free procedure where they send you a swab in the mail, you swab your cheek, and then you are in the registry. If you are ever called upon to donate you are not obligated (though I would hope you would), and it may be a young child or young adult that needs help, not just an old person that has lived a long life.
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