2 Australian Men "Cleared" of HIV After Bone Marrow Transplants
July 22, 2014
Two HIV patients are showing no signs of HIV after receiving bone marrow transplants to treat cancer, according to a case presented by David Cooper, director of the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales, while speaking at a press briefing at the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014) in Melbourne, Australia.
Although the two patients, both Australian men, are seemingly HIV-free, they are both still on antiretroviral therapy (ART) as a precaution. As we've seen in two Boston patients who had similar HIV remissions after bone marrow transplants, the virus rebounded months after treatment was discontinued.
According to a report in the journal Nature, after hearing about the Boston patients last year, Cooper and his team started looking through the archives of St. Vincent's hospital in Sydney to see whether similar transplants had occurred in any of their HIV-positive patients. They found these two patients.
The first patient had received a bone marrow transplant to treat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2011, while the second patient received treatment for leukemia in 2012. Interestingly, the first patient's replacement stem cells came from a donor who carried one copy of a gene that's thought to protect against HIV. Whether this was the CCR5 receptor mutation (as was the case for Timothy Brown, the first man functionally cured of HIV) was not reported.
According to the Nature report:
Certainly, this is promising news, especially in light of the recent disappointing relapses in the Boston patients and "Mississippi Child," but it remains to be seen whether these two Australian patients are truly cured or need to remain on treatment.
Warren Tong is the research editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
Follow Warren on Twitter: @WarrenAtTheBody.
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