Stem Cell Transplant Cures Man of HIV

BY HIV Plus Editors

December 14 2010 6:38 PM ET

The man doctors claim has been cured of HIV after a stem cell transplant in 2008 — known until now as "The Berlin Patient" — revealed his identity last week to Stern, a German magazine. Timothy Ray Brown was diagnosed with HIV in 1995 but was hit again in 2006 when he found out he had leukemia, according to the article. When chemotherapy proved to be too harsh on Brown's body, his doctors suggested stem cell therapy.

Gero Hütter, one of Brown's doctors based in Berlin, proposed they seek stem cell donors whose immune system is resistant to HIV, which only occurs in about 1% of Europeans, according to the report.

Weeks after the 2007 transplant from a donor meeting the criteria, Brown, a U.S. citizen, did not show any signs of HIV in his bloodstream. Another bout with leukemia subjected Brown to more chemotherapy, but nearly two years after that treatment, Brown still shows no sign of the virus in his bloodstream.

Studies of his condition have been published in The New England Journal of Medicine and the journal Blood. Jan van Lunzen, MD, from the University Hospital of Hamburg-Eppendorf, said Brown's recovery is an isolated case, but the results could be helpful to scientists examining the benefits of gene therapy, especially when it comes to HIV.

Tags: Prevention

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