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Stem Cell Transplant Cures HIV for the First Time

According to Reuters, the patient is the third individual and the first woman to be likely cured of HIV after undergoing stem Cell Transplant. Adult stem Cell Transplant were given to the two individuals who were thought to be cured. The example of a middle-aged mixed-race woman, presented in Denver at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, is also the first to use umbilical cord blood, a newer strategy that could make the treatment more accessible to more individuals.

The woman has remained in remission and clear of the virus for 14 months since getting cord blood to treat her acute myeloid leukaemia – a malignancy that develops in blood-forming cells in the bone marrow – without the need for powerful HIV medications known as antiretroviral therapy. Timothy Ray Brown was the first man to be declared HIV-free after undergoing a stem Cell Transplant, according to NBC.

His case was made public in 2008. Brown also had acute myeloid leukaemia and had a bone marrow transplant from a donor “who carried a mutation that inhibits H.I.V. infection,” according to the New York Times. Adam Castillejo, another HIV-cured patient whose case was revealed in 2019, received the same treatment. This treatment aims to replace an individual’s immune system with that of another person, treating cancer and curing HIV at the same time.

First, doctors must use chemotherapy and, in certain cases, irradiation to eliminate the original immune system. The expectation is that by doing so, as many immune cells as possible that are still harbouring HIV despite adequate antiretroviral treatment will be destroyed. New viral copies that might develop from any residual infected cells will therefore be unable to infect any other immune cells, assuming the transplanted HIV-resistant stem cells engraft adequately.

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