Woman cured of HIV using novel treatment

A woman has become third globally to get successful HIV/AIDS treatment [Photo: courtesy]
Building on past successes, as well as failures, an American research team reported that it has possibly cured HIV in a woman for the first time.

Cord blood is more widely available than the adult stem cells used in the bone marrow transplants that cured the previous two male patients, and it does not need to be matched as closely to the recipient.

Most donors in registries are of Caucasian origin, so allowing for only a partial match has the potential to cure dozens of Americans who have both HIV and cancer each year, scientists said.

These scientists used a cutting-edge stem cell transplant method that they expect will expand the pool of people who could receive similar treatment to several dozen annually.

The woman, who also had leukemia, received cord blood to treat her cancer.

It came from a partially matched donor, instead of the typical practice of finding a bone marrow donor of similar race and ethnicity to the patients.

She also received blood from a close relative to give her body temporary immune defenses while the transplant took place.

Carl Dieffenbach, director of the Division of AIDS at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, one of the multiple divisions of the National Institutes of Health that funds the research network behind the new case study, told NBC News that the accumulation of repeated apparent triumphs in curing HIV “continues to provide hope.”

“It’s important that there continues to be a success along this line,” he said.

In the first case of what was ultimately deemed a successful HIV cure investigators treated the American Timothy Ray Brown for acute myeloid leukemia or AML.

He received a stem cell transplant from a donor who had a rare genetic abnormality that grants the immune cells that HIV targets natural resistance to the virus. The strategy in Brown’s case, which was first made public in 2008, has since apparently cured HIV in two other people. But it has also failed in a string of others.