According to Lewin, bone marrow transplants are not a solid option for curing most HIV patients. However, the report confirms that an “HIV cure is possible and strengthens the use of gene therapy as a viable strategy for an HIV cure,” she said.
According to the study, the transplantation of HIV-resistant appears to be an important factor in the study’s success. Previously, scientists thought that graft-versus-host disease, a common stem cell transplant side effect in which the donor immune system attacks the recipient’s immune system, played a role in a possible cure.
“Taken together, these three cases of a cure post stem cell transplant all help in teasing out the various components of the transplant that were absolutely key to a cure,” she explained.
More About HIV and Stem Cell Treatment
The human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, refers to the virus that infects immune system cells. It impairs the body’s ability to fight infection and disease. Infection can eventually lead to AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) which manifests with symptoms such as susceptibility to infections, cancers, and other diseases, and eventually death.
Stem cell transplant is a type of procedure that can help treat different types of cancer. Some people may also refer to it as peripheral stem cell transplant or cord blood transplant.
To prepare the body for transplantation, the patient receives high doses of chemotherapy and, in some cases, radiation therapy prior. Afterward, the stem cells move to the bone marrow. It then initiates the process of making new, healthy blood cells such as white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.
Stem cell transplants for HIV mainly involve substituting the person’s immune system with one that the virus cannot infect. In late 2010, scientists revealed that Timothy Ray Brown, also known as the “Berlin Patient,” had effectively had his HIV “cured” as part of leukemia treatment. Back then, he received a bone marrow transplant from a donor with cells resistant to HIV.
Learn more about HIV/ AIDs here.