16 Feb 2022
First Woman Reported Cured of HIV after Stem Cell Transplant
The Index Today
Researchers reported on Tuesday night that a U.S. patient with leukemia has successfully become the first woman and the third person to date to be cured of HIV after receiving a stem cell transplant from a donor.
The case of patient was 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, 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.
Sharon Lewin, President-Elect of the International AIDS Society, said in a statement, "This is now the third report of a cure in this setting, and the first in a woman living with HIV."
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 added.
Reuters reported that 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.
©Photo: REUTERS/Nacho Doce