HIV Frontlines: The Doctor Who Cured HIV

An Interview With Gero Hütter, M.D.

June 19, 2012

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The Evolution of a Cancer Doctor

How many HIV-positive cancer patients had you treated before you met Timothy?


Was he the first HIV-positive patient that you had interacted with?

No. I've seen many HIV patients, through my students and sometimes my medical training. But most HIV/cancer patients, they are old patients or they are in other departments with specialized HIV treatment. It's uncommon that an HIV patient would come to our department. It's only the case if they have diseases like leukemia or aggressive lymphoma, which cannot be treated by other institutions.

The bulk of your practice and the bulk of your research: Where had that been focused on, up until 2006?

My research focus was on leukemias, on resistance against chemotherapy and stem cell treatment.

Had that always been your passion? Or is that something that developed out of your education?

It has a little bit development, but I started with my scientific area with my doctoral thesis. It was based on resistant phenomena against chemotherapy.


How much of your clinical and research focus has continued to be on chemotherapy resistance since news of Timothy Brown broke?

Now I'm not working clinically anymore. I changed my position to an institution which specially is for collecting and producing stem cell products or other blood-derived products. This is not clinical work. A great part of my work is now research.

Is it research on how stem cells can be used to treat all diseases, or does it focus specifically on HIV?

It's for other diseases. But part of this research project is how to use it in the case of HIV, yes.

What kind of research have you been able to do?

We have focused on the molecular things which are associated with the CCR5 deletion. Because not everything is quite clear about this deletion -- why some effects are also measurable in the transplantation setting. We know that people who have this deletion, the CCR5 deletion, they have better survival if they receive kidney grafts, after kidney transplantation. Normally, transplantation of the kidney has a survival rate of 5 to 10 years. People who have this mutation, their kidney will not be rejected.

So CCR5 deletion is part of this effect in nature. We have other immune system phenomena which have not really described what's behind this phenomenon.

Where is your research focused right now?

Our stem cell unit is focused on treating this population of hematopoietic stem cells for hematological patients. But we have also done research on mesenchymal stem cells, which can be used for regenerative medicine. This whole stem cell area is covered from our institution.

Is regenerative medicine the idea that, if you lose a finger, it can grow back the finger? Or is that a little far-fetched?

I think this is not going to be in the next few decades. It probably is not possible. But you can replace part of tissues if you have injuries, or loss of some special tissues. Or you can rebuild a heart muscle, with mesenchymal stem cells. These cover small areas of possibility; it's very hard to rebuild whole organs, or limbs. This is science fiction, I think.

But if you're an HIV/HCV-coinfected person, and you're cirrhotic, is there a potential that down the road this kind of research can lead to some liver regeneration?

Probably. I don't know -- I wouldn't exclude this possibility.

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See Also
No Proof of New HIV Cure, Despite Headlines -- Here's What We Know
The Only Cases of HIV Cure or Remission
Beyond the Berlin Patient: How Researchers Are Now Trying to Cure More HIV-Positive People (Video)
What Would an HIV Cure Mean for You?

Reader Comments:

Comment by: say mr moneybags (harare zimbabwe) Wed., Jan. 2, 2013 at 8:22 am UTC
Interesting to know there others who care for total cure.its woth a try
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Comment by: Fahad (Jinja, UGANDA) Mon., Dec. 31, 2012 at 2:48 pm UTC
Can this transplant be applied to even the poor African countries, because HIV is on our neck.
I beg that let thee be trials in Uganda too and I take part of the participation , I am dreaming of being cured.

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Comment by: Lori Haserl (White Plains, NY) Sat., Dec. 1, 2012 at 8:33 am UTC
This statement, that someone was "cured" from the HIV virus is inncorrect. While his body has picked up a DNA instruction that now creates HIV resistance in the body, the HIV virus is still laying dormant in his body.If he was "cured" by standard definition of the word cured, then the virus would no longer be in his system. While i commend Dr. Gero Hutter, i would like to tell the author and the readers that the HIV path was stopped, not removed.
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Comment by: andrew (san francisco, ca) Sun., Sep. 16, 2012 at 9:28 pm UTC
this may be obvious to most, but just to underline it, modern medicine is really pretty amazing
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Comment by: Jair G (Monterrey, México) Wed., Aug. 1, 2012 at 9:29 am UTC
amazing and hopeful...
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Comment by: neeta (india) Mon., Jul. 23, 2012 at 5:43 pm UTC
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Comment by: lolki (wis) Sat., Jul. 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm UTC
it's obvious why there is no mainstream cure for hiv/aids there's more money to be made treating disease over curing them
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Comment by: Lucy Q (Los Angeles, Ca ) Tue., Jul. 17, 2012 at 2:32 am UTC
Its so wounderful 2 read this :) , I was diegnosed HIV+ in May/2012 I was beyond scared . I'm reading into it know but the first few weeks I was 2 scared 2 do so . I'm keeping the faith always and this reading gives Me even more hope * May God give U the ability N B right by your side on your wounderful research * - Amen
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Comment by: Girish C. (India) Wed., Jul. 11, 2012 at 3:31 am UTC
Amazing and really unbelievable
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Comment by: salmina (south africa) Sun., Jul. 8, 2012 at 6:33 pm UTC
The story is being told of the lucky patient, what else can be done to the millions of people?Or is this pandemic the last to end the world?
It sounds strange everytime when anything promising come to forth, the issue of funding rises to its peak.
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Comment by: Michelle (Bronx) Sun., Jul. 8, 2012 at 2:58 am UTC
I believe that there should be some clinical trials in the New York area of the CCR5 trial so that you can find out just how many people have it or don't have it. I believe people would be willing to show up even if they are not given incentative just for the fact it could help cure/save their life.
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Comment by: Papa PPZ (South Africa) Fri., Jul. 6, 2012 at 7:55 pm UTC
People are dying of HIV/AIDS an offer can be made to the Dr and he can cure de world.He can help the whole world.
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Comment by: mr L (US) Fri., Jul. 6, 2012 at 1:23 pm UTC
Why people don't postively to hurry the for hiv
cure this unwanted desases or scientistic need more people die intention because that is clear Brown has already cured why don't accept the medicine to be supply all over the world.
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Comment by: michael (los angeles) Tue., Jun. 26, 2012 at 4:07 pm UTC
here is a doctor who made a profound discovery and is trying to reach out to the whole community to come together and combine information, and then the world, especially the US ignores him and decides to do it by themselves...why? this is what happens when you try to make profit from the medical field. everybody wants to do their own thing so they can make a quick buck faster than the other guy........instead of welcoming this doctor's appeal to combine testing and create a central database for stem cells and a master list of people with no ccr5, they say no thanks.....this is sickening.
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Comment by: Miss Lee (SA ) Mon., Jun. 25, 2012 at 4:03 am UTC
Thats the best news ever - so why are you healing the rest of the world
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Comment by: Maria (South Africa) Fri., Jun. 22, 2012 at 2:00 pm UTC
thanks for the wonderful interview. I wish the medical doctors and researchers in this field start to realise how people are suffering and let them continue with the research for free for the benefit of the society. may God bless the DR who saved a life through this research and I wish he be supported. As a south africa who is HIV positive I feel like flying to Berlin to safe my life irrespective of the cost
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Comment by: Duncan (Dunedin, New Zealand.) Fri., Jun. 22, 2012 at 9:56 am UTC
Gero Hütter is a hero and a model for doctors worldwide! Medics with him motivations and his resources are the medics who are going to find THE CURE for this terrible disease we suffer from.

Thanks for the article, Myles. Keep publicising Gero Hütter. Make medics in other labs around the world sit up, take note, and copy his behaviour!
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Comment by: Luciano A (Mozambique) Thu., Jun. 21, 2012 at 2:53 pm UTC
I am HIV positive,discovered 1 year ago,i havent started with any treatment.
What can i do do be cured?
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: michael (los angeles) Tue., Jul. 31, 2012 at 6:05 am UTC
bombard your congressmen and government to expand stem cell research.

Comment by: Pauline Asgarali (Trinidad and Tobago....) Thu., Jun. 21, 2012 at 2:48 pm UTC
Angels Forever Foundation team support this information and we thank u 4 bringing to the people'.....god' bless every 1'....
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Comment by: nelson vergel (The Moon) Thu., Jun. 21, 2012 at 2:19 pm UTC
Love the article, Myles!!
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