Bone-marrow transplants as a 'cure' for AIDS? III

Ive gotten over 9,000 emails on this guy:

First man 'functionally cured' of HIV

Doctors claim to have "functional cure" for HIV

The Berlin Patient, first reports of an AIDS Cure

Special Report - An end to AIDS?

This is the same guy Ive written about a couple times before. Its real great for him, immahappyforhim. But this is a really rare thing under really rare circumstances with a not-likely outcome. Dude is lucky, in innumerable ways. Everyone isnt and would not be that lucky. We cannot go into a rural village in Zambia and cure everyone there of HIV/AIDS with bone marrow transplants. So, YAY for this dude, and anyone who finds themselves in a similar financial and medical situation and living through the procedure, not so YAY for the other 30 million people with HIV/AIDS.

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You still need to file this under "Whoa thats cool! But its not really a realistic solution for the AIDS pandemic". The HIV+ fellow they treated for cancer with bone marrow from a deltaCCR5 donor is still alive and kicking 3.5 years later, and for all intents and purposes, 'cured' of HIV/AIDS.…
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Ive been told by a clinician that most HIV+ patients in first world countries would choose antiretrovirals over the BM transplant.

A swath of stories about this came up on reddit recently, along with the insinuations to the effect of "because the group was able to do this and did it with a relatively small budget, this story is evidence that 'big pharma' (whoever that is supposed to be) isn't really interested in curing HIV."

Almost rolled my eyes right out of their sockets. Comments can be dangerous that way.

"ARV drugs do not cure people of the HIV virus or AIDS, they only make people sick. Most people do not realize that ARV drugs actually feed the HIV virus so that the virus doesnât go into full blown AIDS and consume the entire body. Thus, ARV drugs keep one alive but at the expense of immense pain and suffering, feeding the virus their happiness and energy."

@3 - I don't think the virus works like a tamagotchi pet.

By Quietmarc (not verified) on 06 Jun 2011 #permalink

I was imagining the virus as Audrey 2 from Little Shop of Horrors. Feed me, Seymour!!

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 06 Jun 2011 #permalink

Lorax-- A large percentage of people who go through this kind of transplant die. With antiretrovirals, HIV+ patients life expectancies are reaching that of uninfected peers. *I* would pick ARVs over a BM transplant... unless death from the cancer was imminent, and I had a delta32 match.

Brian-- You know me, rollin in $18K a year! Dolla dolla bill, yo! Everyone gets a PhD in biology for teh Benjamins!

Quietmarc-- You win the thread.

herr doktor bimler-- Now that you mention it...

I will gladly share thread-winning honours with herr doktor. :)

By quietmarc (not verified) on 08 Jun 2011 #permalink

I'll be getting an autologous HSCT soon (for Hodgkin's lymphoma). It's a somewhat drastic procedure, but not nearly as bad as it used to be.

Touting it as a "cure" for HIV is par for the course as far as media goes. Not very many places willing to check out the REAL science like we get here at erv.


ERV is quite right. By definition (almost) if you're HIV+ you lack the CCR5 delta 32 mutation, or you have at least one functional copy of the gene. Therefore to be cured of HIV you must have somebody else's bone marrow (allogeneic bone marrow transplant) and this is likely to be someone unrelated to you unless by some freak you have a sibling who is CCR5 delta 32 homozygous (which would mean of course you must be at least heterozygous...).

The transplant related mortality for a matched unrelated donor allogeneic bone marrow transplant is still around 26% so this is not to be taken lightly. And your immune system is never normal again - there is increased risk of infection probably life long (and that's without HIV).

Can commenters post links here?

The exciting thing about the bone marrow transplant is that it opened up new research into how to go about annihilating the HIV virus with new drugs that work in ways that the current one's do not. Keep your eyes open for a CURE in the next 6 years. Yes, I said cure. You can hold me to that.