Stem cell transplant cure news update

i-Base been contacted by lots of people about the case of the man who had stem cells transplant who has now been off treatment for over three years without his viral load rebounding. It is very likely that if HIV was going to return it would have done this very quickly. In effect this person’s immune system has been changed to someone who is naturally resistant to HIV, and it is holding very well.

We reported this case in our reports from the CROI medical conference in 2008 in a non technical review (page down to see ‘The Cure’ story) and in a technical report in HTB. We included an update by Richard Jefferys in HTB in October this year and again in the December issue. This last article to includes a link to an interview with the patient Timothy Ray Brown.

All reports have been clear that this is too difficult and risky for this process to be used by anyone unless they have leukemia that requires such a transplant.

However, studies are already looking at gene therapy which work in a related way. One study of a treatment called SB-728-T by Sangamo is looking at a treatment that changes someone’s CD4 cells to be similar to the cells of the donor in the transplant case above.

A short video by the US activist Matt Sharp who is a participant in this study is posted on online.

This is exciting news and it offers hope than one of the many proposed strategies to cure HIV are closer now than they have ever been.