Get all your news in one place
100’s of premium titles. One news app. Zero ads. Just $10 per month.

First woman reported cured of HIV after stem cell transplant

Medicines are being put into individual packages at a farmacy. (AFP)

A U.S. patient with leukemia has become the first woman and the third person to date to be cured of HIV after receiving a stem cell transplant from a donor who was naturally resistant to the virus that causes AIDS, researchers reported on Tuesday.

The case of a middle-aged woman of mixed race, presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunisitic Infections in Denver, is also the first involving umbilical cord blood, a newer approach that may make the treatment available to more people.

Since receiving the cord blood to treat her acute myeloid leukemia - a cancer that starts in blood-forming cells in the bone marrow - the woman has been in remission and free of the virus for 14 months, without the need for potent HIV treatments known as antiretroviral therapy.

The two prior cases occurred in males - one white and one Latino - who had received adult stem cells, which are more frequently used in bone marrow transplants.

"This is now the third report of a cure in this setting, and the first in a woman living with HIV," Sharon Lewin, President-Elect of the International AIDS Society, said in a statement.

The case is part of a larger U.S.-backed study led by Dr. Yvonne Bryson of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), and Dr. Deborah Persaud of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. It aims to follow 25 people with HIV who undergo a transplant with stem cells taken from umbilical cord blood for the treatment of cancer and other serious conditions.

Patients in the trial first undergo chemotherapy to kill off the cancerous immune cells. Doctors then transplant stem cells from individuals with a specific genetic mutation in which they lack receptors used by the virus to infect cells.

Scientists believe these individuals then develop an immune system resistant to HIV.

Lewin said bone marrow transplants are not a viable strategy to cure most people living with HIV. But the report "confirms that a cure for HIV is possible and further strengthens using gene therapy as a viable strategy for an HIV cure," she said.

The study suggests that an important element to the success is the transplantation of HIV-resistant cells. Previously, scientists believed that a common stem cell transplant side effect called graft-versus-host disease, in which the donor immune system attacks the recipient’s immune system, played a role in a possible cure.

"Taken together, these three cases of a cure post stem cell transplant all help in teasing out the various components of the transplant that were absolutely key to a cure," Lewin said.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

Related Stories
Third person apparently cured of HIV using novel stem cell transplant
Patient is mixed-race woman treated in New York using umbilical cord blood, in technique raising chances of finding suitable donors
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Scientists 'cure' female HIV patient for first time using stem cell transplant
The 'New York Patient' remains in remission following the transplant and 18 months ago she was able to stop her…
Researchers cured a woman of HIV using umbilical cord stem cells
Scientists hope this will lead to better treatment for people of color in particular.
Did Umbilical Cord Blood Transplant Help Cure A Woman's HIV infection?
A woman in the New York City area appears to have been cured of an HIV infection, Wall Street Journal reported,…
Woman is cured of HIV in huge breakthrough for virus treatment
‘The fact that she’s mixed race, and that she’s a woman, that is really important scientifically and really important in…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
A miracle cure against HIV
What is the usual treatment for HIV infection? How is the latest experimental remedy different?