Only one person is known to have been completely cured of AIDS
Posted by Xeno on June 2, 2011
In tough economic times, the need to find a cure has become even more urgent, says Francoise Barre Sinoussi, who won a Nobel prize for her work in identifying Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). “We have to think about the long term, including a strategy to find a cure,” she says. “We have to keep on searching until we find one.”
The Berlin patient is proof they could. His case has injected new energy into a field where people for years believed talk of a cure was irresponsible.
Timothy Ray Brown was living in Berlin when besides being HIV-positive, he had a relapse of leukaemia. He was dying. In 2007, his doctor, Gero Huetter, made a radical suggestion: a bone marrow transplant using cells from a donor with a rare genetic mutation, known as CCR5 delta 32. Scientists had known for a few years that people with this gene mutation had proved resistant to HIV.
“We really didn’t know when we started this project what would happen,” Huetter, an oncologist and haematologist who now works at the University of Heidelberg in southern Germany, told Reuters. The treatment could well have finished Brown off. Instead he remains the only human ever to be cured of AIDS. “He has no replicating virus and he isn’t taking any medication. And he will now probably never have any problems with HIV,” says Huetter. Brown has since moved to San Francisco. …