File this under “Whoa thats cool! But its not really a realistic solution for the AIDS pandemic.”
It sounds like a cruel joke, but HIV patients have increased odds of developing leukemias and lymphomas. These cancers arent necessarily directly related to HIV (there is no reason to think HIV-1 is directly causing the cancer, like HPV and cervical cancer), but because of this relationship, an obvious question comes up: How the hell do you treat someone with leukemia and HIV?
A hospital in Germany tried something I cant believe no one has tried before… They gave a patient regular chemotherapy to kill off the cancerous cells (which also killed off most of the cells infected with HIV). They then replaced his bone barrow with marrow from a homozygous delta-32 donor– A donor from a group of people who totally lack one of the co-receptors HIV-1 needs to get into your cells (pic from article).
So the physicians killed *most* of the patients HIV-1 infected cells, and replaced them with uninfectable cells. So even though there might be some infected cells left, the viral progeny had no place to go.
600 days later, the patient is doing great. ‘Functionally cured’ of HIV-1. They cant find the viruses anywhere.
Of course,”caveats are legion” (lol)– 30% of patients die from the chemo/transplant. This treatment is even more expensive and intensive than anti-retrovirals– It would be impossible to implement in the areas that need an AIDS cure the worst (Africa). But the success of this patient is giving hope to people like David Baltimore, who is currently trying to cure AIDS by genetically engineering individuals own white blood cells to not express CCR5, or to express the right antibodies… but even if Baltimores therapies are less invasive than a complete bone marrow transplant, it still takes some balls to think personalized genetic engineering is a viable HIV treatment in Africa…
Oh well. Its still cool. Appreciate it for being cool. But right now, with todays technologies, its not a solution to the worlds HIV-1 pandemic.