Originally published July 3, 2013, we now have an update that the HIV has returned in two men thought cured.
Boston researchers are reporting the return of the HIV virus in two patients who had become virus-free after undergoing bone marrow transplants, dashing hopes of a possible cure that had generated widespread excitement.
The rebound of the virus shows its persistence, and that it can hide in places in the body where it’s hard to find, said the lead scientist, Dr. Timothy Henrich of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. But he said the team has gleaned significant clues from the cases for designing next-generation treatments to battle the virus, which causes AIDS.
An intriguing story out today.
Two HIV-positive patients in the United States who underwent bone marrow transplants for cancer have stopped anti-retroviral therapy and still show no detectable sign of HIV, researchers say.
The Harvard University researchers stressed it was too early to say the men have been cured, but said it was an encouraging sign that the virus hasn’t rebounded in their blood months after drug treatment ended.
The researchers, Timothy Henrich and Daniel Kuritzkes of the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, announced last year that blood samples taken from the men — who both had blood cancers — showed no traces of the HIV virus eight months after they received bone marrow transplants to replace cancerous blood cells with healthy donor cells. The men were still on anti-HIV drugs at the time.
The men have both since stopped anti-retroviral therapy — one 15 weeks ago and the other seven weeks ago — and show no signs of the virus, Henrich told an international AIDS conference in Malaysia on Wednesday.
Further testing of the men’s cells, plasma and tissue for at least a year will help give a clearer picture on the full impact of the transplant on HIV persistence, he said.
Are we close to a cure for HIV and AIDS? It’s hard to tell but this is definitely progress and showing a lot of promise in the research. We must wait to hear expert opinion on such a story. So, cautious optimism is warranted. Please help us out by providing any references to knowledgable commentary.
Tip: Clara Rosas