A cancer patient battling leukemia and living with HIV, has been "cured" of HIV by a team of German doctors. In a rare and defining medical moment, a team of German researchers led by Thomas Schneider, performed a 2007 bone marrow transplant on a patient battling leukemia and HIV and found, due to a genetic mutation, the patient became immune to HIV. Thomas Schneider of the Berlin Charite Hospital reported his findings to the medical journal Blood and stated: "Our results strongly suggest that cure of HIV has been achieved in this patient."
This stunning procedure gives the 33 million people living with HIV/AIDS small hope toward a cure. Though many researchers and physicians reject this approach for everyone living with HIV, as the treatment could potentially kill patients and involves complete destruction of the patient's individual bone marrow and transplant from a donor with a near blood match and immune system type. Dr. Robert Gallo, of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland was one of the first researchers who discovered HIV/AIDS. Gallo suggests that the "cure" found by German researchers is "not practical and it can kill people. It is possibly a cure, that's for sure, you won't know for absolute sure until the person dies and undergoes extreme PCR (genetic) analysis of post-mortem tissue."
Reservoirs within an HIV infected person's body can accumulate and harbor the disease and Schneider's team has found that after testing the patient's colon, liver, spinal fluid, and brain since the bone marrow transplant, the patient's immune system is operating from the non-infected donor's bone marrow and is HIV free. Schneider and his team determined: "From these results, it is reasonable to conclude that the cure of HIV infection has been achieved in this patient."
Though there is no definitive cure or vaccine for HIV/AIDS, immno-suppressant drugs have allowed most people living with this disease to lead healthy lives. Researchers have also found a mutation known as Delta 32 which occurs within a cell receptor identified as CCR5. The mutation, carried by one percent of people of Northern European descent, renders them "un-infectable" to the virus which causes AIDS.
For more: Blood Journal