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Stem-Cell Therapy Eradicates HIV in Two Patients

Docs aren’t ready to call it a cure (July 3)

After receiving stem-cell transplants for cancer, two men with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection appear to have cleared the virus from their bodies, according to physicians at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Both men have been off acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) drugs for several months.

The important findings were reported at an International AIDS Society conference in Kuala Lumpur.

The two cases resemble that of Timothy Brown, an American who was cured of HIV infection in 2007 after undergoing a stem-cell transplant in Germany to cure his leukemia. Brown, however, received a rare genetic mutation that provides resistance against HIV. The physicians at Brigham and Women’s Hospital used ordinary donor cells.

In the new report, one patient has been off antiretroviral therapy for 15 weeks, and the other for 7 weeks.

“They are doing very well,” said Dr. Timothy Henrich. “While these results are exciting, they do not yet indicate that the men have been cured. Only time will tell.”

Further testing of the men’s cells, plasma, and tissue for at least a year will help give a clearer picture of the full effect of the transplant on HIV persistence, he said.

Sources: Reuters; July 3, 2013; and Medical Xpress; July 3, 2013.

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