The "Berlin Patient"
In the beginning, there was Timothy Ray Brown. An American living in Berlin, Brown was diagnosed with HIV in 1995 -- and with advanced leukemia in 2006. His prognosis had become grim.
A German oncologist, Gero Hütter, M.D., decided to try the medical equivalent of a Hail Mary pass: A never-before-attempted stem cell transplant in which the donor had a rare mutation making him essentially immune to most forms of HIV.
The procedure was extremely risky -- and stunningly successful. Seven years later, Brown's leukemia remains in remission, and there is still no sign of active HIV anywhere in his body, though he has been off of HIV medications since shortly after his operation.