The latest HIV cure is the first of its kind

Doctors say they may have cured another person of HIV with a special form of stem cell transplant. The patient remained HIV-free for six years and is the first known woman to have successfully undergone the procedure. The doctors used a novel technique in which stem cells from a relative and a donor’s cord blood were transplanted at the same time – a technique that could make these transplants feasible on a larger scale.

The patient’s doctors detailed earlier her ongoing case at an HIV-related science conference last year. On Thursday she published a peer-reviewed article about her case in Cell journal. Following the tradition of other patients treated with donor stem cells and likely cured, the woman is identified only as a New York patient. She is considered one of five people who have been successfully treated in this way, although in some of these cases it is still early to know for sure. She is the first black woman in this exclusive group to identify as mixed race.

According to the newspaper, the woman’s HIV was well controlled after diagnosis. Unfortunately, four years after her diagnosis, she also developed acute myeloid leukemia, a type of cancer that affects white blood cells. However, the combination of the two diseases made her a suitable candidate for a unique procedure. Stem cell transplants are often used to treat leukemia because they can restore a person’s immune system after treatment that attempts to eradicate the cancer. By transplanting stem cells from someone who carries a mutation that makes them naturally resistant to HIV infection to someone who also has HIV, there is hope that you can transmit that resistance too, so that their body can Virus can get rid of permanently.

To date, these transplants have largely relied on stem cells from adult donors with the mutation called CCR5-delta32/32. But the woman was included in a study testing the use of cord blood IMPAACT P1107 study. Donor stem cell transplants require donor-recipient compatibility and compatible adults who express the CCR5delta32 mutation are a particularly rare donor type. But donor cord blood stem cells only need to partially match the recipient, which should make them a more practical option. This is especially important for racially diverse populations, as they are much less common someone compatible first of all. To improve the chances of success of the procedure, the doctors also transplanted Stem cells from a family member who partially matches the woman with these cells intended to act as a temporary bridge before the other stem cells would become complete rebuilds your immune system.

The woman received the transplant in August 2017. Since then, she has experienced some complications possibly related to the procedure (mainly asymptomatic infections), but her HIV levels remained undetectable during treatment. About three years later, doctors decided to stop HIV treatment altogether. Now, nearly six years after the transplant, the woman still shows no signs of her cancer or HIV infection returning.

This woman is doing great. SHe’s cancer and HIV free, traveling and enjoying life,” study author Yvonne Bryson, a researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in an email to Gizmodo. Other team members include physicians and scientists from Johns Hopkins University, Weill Cornell Medicine and New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Unfortunately, these treatments are not scalable as a standalone HIV Cure. Stem cell transplants are a risky procedure that can have serious, even life-threatening, complications. These risks are outweighed by the benefits they may offer to some people with leukemia or related conditions, but not to the average person with HIV who can be effectively managed with medication.

However, in people living with HIV who develop these conditions, these transplant procedures could very well be become a two-for-one cure. Finding compatible people is a big challenge at the moment, but if Cable Blood is proving to be a reliable source of these unique stem cells, which should unlock the donor pool. It is also possible that ongoing Research will one day lead to treatments that can create these Resistance to HIV in humans without using a Transplantation, says Bryson.

There may be opportunities to make one in the future.s own cells resistant—I.e. gene therapy, etc.-or to combine the Virus reduction reservoirs with acHost resistance demanded by HIV vaccine immunotherapy,” she said.

The authors note this in the work that another person underwent this procedure but the transplant failed within a year. The man’s cancer returned and he continued to show signs of HIV in his system. So scientists may still have to find ways to improve the success rate. Another concern is to find and establish an adequate supply of these rare umbilical cord blood donors. With their current protocol The The team was able to identify 300 eligible units cord blood, enough to help someone immediately need for a transplant. But they say support from the communities And governments is needed to ensure a continuous pipeline.

This article has been updated with comments from one of the study’s authors.

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