The new approach may make the medication available to more people without having to take antiretroviral drugs. Gene therapy may be a key to curing HIV. A patient with leukaemia in the US became the first woman and the second person to ever be cured of HIV after undergoing a bone marrow transplant.
This patient received cord blood from a donor who had tested positive for HIV. She is now in remission for 14 months. Her treatment did not require antiretroviral drugs.
A man who was naturally resistant to the AIDS virus became cured after receiving an infusion of stem cells. He was the first person to be cured of AIDS by using adult stem cells. Adult stem cells were used instead of bone marrow because they are easier to obtain.
This new approach may make the transplant available to more people. Researchers are studying how this approach works.
Patients in the trial first undergo chemo to kill off the cancer cells. Then they get transplants of stem cells from people who lack the receptor proteins needed by HIV. Scientists think this makes them immune to HIV.
Lewin believes that bone marrow transplants are still not a viable strategy to treat HIV. He says that this study confirms that a cure for HIV may be possible and strengthens using gene therapy as the next step towards curing HIV.
Taken together, these three cases help tease out the various components of a successful transplant.