The Boston Duo
The success of the "Berlin patient" got researchers wondering: How easy might it be to replicate this miracle?
The short answer is: not easy. The stem cell transplant procedure is very dangerous, and awfully expensive. Nonetheless, in certain cases it may be deemed worth the risk. In 2012, researchers reported the cases of two HIV-positive men who had received stem cell transplants similar to the one Brown received. Unlike Brown, though, the donor cells they received were not resistant to HIV; finding a genetic match for such a rare mutation is extremely difficult.
The two men stayed on HIV treatment throughout the transplant process, which appeared to have kept any remaining HIV in their bodies from infecting the new donor cells. Unfortunately, months after stopping treatment, both patients relapsed.