HIV; the search for a cure continues

aaron-burden-71495-unsplashPhoto by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

In a case report published February 2009 in The New England Journal  of Medicine, a patient with HIV and leukemia received a stem cell transplant from another person to treat the leukemia. This “other person” (aka an allogeneic stem cell transplant donor) had white blood cells missing a surface receptor called CCR5. It so happens that HIV needs this receptor to enter into the CD4 cell. When this patient’s wbc’s turned totally into the donor person’s wbc’s due to the stem cell transplant (aka total chimerism) that were missing the CCR5 receptor, the patient was cured. This is the only known cure of HIV and unfortunately has not been reproduced. However, this recent paper from Annals of Internal Medicine continues to look at the issue of why allogeneic stem cell transplants seem to knock down (but only once knocked out) HIV.

Allogeneic stem cell transplant and HIV therapy; Annals of Internal Medicine November 2018

Other mechanisms for immune system manipulation in HIV therapy are being pursued as well.  Vaccines have not held out much promise.  In the meantime cART (combination antiretroviral therapy) viral antibiotic therapy continues to hold back the disease in those people who faithfully take it.

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