A middle-aged American woman with leukemia has been cured of HIV disease and got remission from the disease after undergoing a breakthrough stem cell transplant using the blood of a donated umbilical cord, according to researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles.

This American Citizen became the first woman and the third person in the world to be cured of HIV after receiving a stem cell transplant from a donor who was naturally immune and resistant to the particular virus that causes AIDS.

 

The patient is considered “functionally” cured because, although they’ve been unable to detect HIV in her blood for many months, it will take longer to be sure she is truly cured, said NBC’s Dr. John Torres.

 

According to researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, she is now in remission after receiving a new combination of stem cell transplants for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow that progresses naturally. She then achieved leukemia remission after chemotherapy.

After receiving the umbilical cord blood to treat her leukemia, she has been in remission and free of the virus for the past 14 months. An interesting fact is, she got remission without getting any potent HIV treatments such as antiretroviral therapy.

 

US woman gets cured of HIV disease and got remission after undergoing stem cell transplant.
She became the first woman and the third person in the world to be cured of HIV after receiving a stem cell transplant from a donor who was naturally immune and resistant to the particular virus that causes AIDS.

 

The breakthrough turning point in medical science is part of a huge U.S.-backed study led by Dr. Yvonne Bryson of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), and Dr. Deborah Persaud of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The study followed 25 people with HIV who undergo a transplant with stem cells taken from umbilical cord blood.

 

“This woman has been in remission of AML for four and a half years and has had no HIV rebound in the 14 months since antiretroviral therapy was stopped,” said Dr. Yvonne Bryson, Professor, and specialist in pediatric infectious diseases and HIV pathogenesis at the David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA.

“If HIV remission continues and she is determined to be cured, she would be only the third person to achieve cure and the first HIV remission to have been successfully engrafted with umbilical cord blood cells with a mutation that is protective against HIV-1 combined with stem cells from an adult, haploidentical (“half-matched”) related donor,” Bryson added.

 

HIV
Human T-cell infected with HIV

 

In the trial section, the patients intentionally undergo chemotherapy to kill off the cancerous immune cells. Then, the doctors transplant specialized stem cells from individuals with a specific genetic mutation. These individuals lack receptors used by the virus to infect cells. Researchers believe these patients then develop an immune system that is resistant to HIV disease.

“This is now the third report of a cure in this setting and the first in a woman living with HIV,” Sharon Lewin, President-Elect of the International AIDS Society

Bone marrow transplants are not a viable method to treat and cure most people with HIV. But the report “confirms that an effective treatment and cure for HIV is possible and further strengthens using gene therapy as a viable strategy for an HIV cure,” said Lewin.

 

The study indicates that transplantation of HIV-resistant cells is a major element to the success. According to the researchers, no HIV was detected in the participant for 14 months.

“This study provides hope for the use of cord blood cells or a combination of cord blood cells and haploidentical (half-matched) grafts to achieve HIV-1 remission for individuals requiring transplantation for other diseases. It also provides proof that HIV-1 viral ‘reservoirs’ can be cleared sufficiently to afford remission and possibly cure in the setting of resistant target cells,” said Bryson.

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