Hope for a Cure

Timothy Kincaid

November 10th, 2008

1990’s Longtime Companion ends with an imagined day in which AIDS and the HIV virus is overcome, a day of celebration. Now there is a story that hints that such a day may come.

It has been long known – and seldom discussed – that some persons are immune to most strains of the HIV virus. I’ve wondered whether there couldn’t be a way of using that immunity to kill the virus in those who are infected. Now it seems that a German doctor has done just that. (WSJ)

The breakthrough appears to be that Dr. Hütter, a soft-spoken hematologist who isn’t an AIDS specialist, deliberately replaced the patient’s bone marrow cells with those from a donor who has a naturally occurring genetic mutation that renders his cells immune to almost all strains of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

This treatment for leukemia yielded an unexpected result

The patient, a 42-year-old American living in Berlin, is still recovering from his leukemia therapy, but he appears to have won his battle with AIDS. Doctors have not been able to detect the virus in his blood for more than 600 days, despite his having ceased all conventional AIDS medication. Normally when a patient stops taking AIDS drugs, the virus stampedes through the body within weeks, or days.

This case may be a fluke. And this bone marrow procedure is so risky, and has such a high death rate, that this cannot become a method for treating HIV infected persons. And we have seen many promising treatments turn out to be failures later.

Nonetheless it is stories like this one that give us continued hope for a cure. It certainly provided hope to this patient.

Nearly two years later, standard tests haven’t detected virus in his blood, or in the brain and rectal tissues where it often hides.

Suricou Raven

November 10th, 2008

It’s about time. HIV is proving to be an extremally difficult virus to cure. Progress is being made slowly though, and I look forward to when an effective cure is finally available.

Mostly because I see the elimination of HIV, and all other STIs, to be an essential step towards completing the sexual revolution. The Pill and effective contraception got it started, and triggered a generation of sexual liberation and the possibility of women’s rights, which in turn led to the breakdown of gender roles. But disease has it stalled.

Andrew

November 10th, 2008

Actually, there is a lot of research into those types of preventions and treatments. I live with a guy who has a major research grant on just the topic. The short version of at least one immunity, most of the people who are immune to it are actually missing a tiny sequence of DNA.

So yes, lots of money is currently there. To its credit, HIV is the most evolving thing that has probably every existed.

Tavdy

November 11th, 2008

This is the second bit of good news on the HIV front I’ve seen in under 24 hours.

A British-American team of scientists has developed an “assassin cell” that can target HIV even after it mutates, which is significant because this is how HIV avoids being attacked by the body’s immune system. This will either destroy the virus outright or (more likely) force it to mutate a second time – which severely weakens it, halting or reversing progression of the infection.

Clinical trials on patients with advanced HIV infection begin next Summer.

There’s more info in this Guardian article.

Joel

November 11th, 2008

Wow… wouldnt it be exciting that they found a cure NOW?, in the midst of the passing of prop 8. Just to get the ‘aids are for gays crowds’ fanatics to recede into just prayer.

But srsly though, this would be such a burden lifter to anyone that is currently dealing with this. Going to keep tracking this and the article tavdy mentioned.

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