Woman becomes third person to be cured of HIV after researchers use new stem cell method

HIV infection

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A third person has been cured of HIV through an umbilical cord stem cell transplant, a new method of treatment.

The patient, a mixed-race woman, is now in remission after being diagnosed with the virus in 2013, according to The New York Times. The previous patients – two men named Timothy Ray Brown and Adam Castillejo – were infected with HIV through bone marrow or adult stem cell transplants.

The woman had been diagnosed with leukemia as well as HIV, and received cord blood to help treat her cancer, for The temperature. The cord blood came from a partially matched donor, and the woman also received blood from a relative so her body would have “temporary immune defenses” during the transplant process, according to The temperature.

While the two men, who were the first two patients to be cured of HIV, received bone marrow transplants to treat the virus, the woman’s case marks a new method in the fight against HIV.

Microscopic view of the HIV virus

Microscopic view of the HIV virus

Photo by Alay

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Brown and Castillejo both received bone marrow transplants from donors whose marrow contained an HIV-blocking mutation, according to The temperaturewho reports that such a mutation is rare and often found in donors of northern European origin.

Although the bone marrow transplant was successful in both cases, it was not without consequences for the men; Brown nearly died after the procedure and Castillejo lost a lot of weight, developed hearing loss and suffered from infections, The temperature reports.

The woman who was cured with stem cells left hospital 17 days later and did not develop graft-versus-host disease, a condition that Brown and Castillejo suffered from following their marrow transplants bone. Time reports.

According to CNN, the woman received her transplant in 2017 and stopped taking HIV medication three years later. Fourteen months after stopping antiretroviral treatment, she had “no detectable virus”, according to CNN.

Dr Steven Deeks, an AIDS specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, said The temperature that the woman’s case is significant because of her demographics, explaining, “The fact that she’s mixed-race and that she’s female, that’s really important scientifically and really important in terms of impacting the community. “

Deeks was not involved in the woman’s case.

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The woman had participated in a study that monitored 25 HIV-positive patients in the United States who had undergone a transplant, ABC News reports.

UCLA infectious disease physician Dr. Yvonne Bryson, who led the study the woman participated in, addressed her case at the Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections Conference this week.

“Today we reported the third known case of HIV remission and the first woman after a stem cell transplant and using HIV resistant cells,” Bryson said at a press conference, according to ABC News.

“This case is special for several reasons: First, our participant was an American woman living with HIV of mixed race, who needed a stem cell transplant for the treatment of her leukemia,” she continued. “And she would have a harder time finding both a genetic match and an HIV-resistant mutation to cure both her cancer and potentially her HIV. This is a natural mutation, but rare.”

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Despite the success of the woman’s case, researchers warn that the treatment used to cure her HIV is not a widely applicable method.

Dr Anthony Fauci told the Community Health Center: “I don’t want people to think that now it’s something that can be applied to the 36 million people [globally] living with HIV,” according to ABC News.

Fauci added: “This person had an underlying disease that required a stem cell transplant. … It’s not practical to think that it’s something that’s going to be widely available. It’s more of a proof of concept. .”

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