Two HIV-positive patients in the United States who underwent bone marrow transplants for cancer have stopped anti-retroviral therapy and still show no detectable sign of the HIV virus, researchers said Wednesday.
The first person reported to be cured of HIV, American Timothy Ray Brown, underwent a stem cell transplant in 2007 to treat his leukemia. He was reported by his German doctors to have been cured of HIV two years later.
The researchers, Timothy Henrich and Daniel Kuritzkes of the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, announced last year that blood samples taken from the men — who both had blood cancers — showed no traces of the HIV virus eight months after they received bone marrow transplants to replace cancerous blood cells with healthy donor cells.
“These findings clearly provide important new information that might well alter the current thinking about HIV and gene therapy,” Kevin Robert Frost, chief executive of The Foundation of AIDS Research, said in a statement. “While stem cell transplantation is not a viable option for people with HIV on a broad scale because of its costs and complexity, these new cases could lead us to new approaches to treating, and ultimately even eradicating, HIV.”
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