Two more men from Boston seem to have been allegedly cured of HIV through bone marrow transplants according to reports coming out of the 19th annual International AIDS Conference.
The two men who were being treated at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston for cases of cancer at different times. One of the men is in his 20s and was infected at birth, while the other man is in his 50s, and has been infected with HIV since the early 1980s. After each receiving bone marrow transplants, the men also remained on their antiretroviral medication regimens, according to NBC News.
Within eight months of their respective transplant surgeries, it was discovered that the patients' cells were replaced by cells from the HIV-negative bone marrow donors. The men also now show no signs of HIV in their DNA or RNA. Levels of HIV antibodies have also decreased.
"We expected HIV to vanish from the patients' plasma, but it is surprising that we can't find any traces of HIV in their cells", said Timothy Henrich, MD, who presented the finding with colleague Daniel Kuritzkes. "The next step is to determine if there are any traces of HIV in their tissue."
Kuritzkes added that the discovery suggests that "under the cover of anti-retroviral therapy, the cells that repopulated the patient's immune system appear to be protected from becoming re-infected with HIV."
Researchers are now preparing to study other HIV-positive patients who have undergone a bone marrow transplant. The doctors pointed out that one of the major differences between Brown and these two new patients is that Brown's bone marrow donor was specifically chosen because the donor had a genetic mutation that resisted HIV. The Brigham patients' donors were not necessarily HIV-resistant.
Timothy Brown (pictured), known as The Berlin Patient because of undergoing similar treatment that seems to have eradicated HIV from his body, released a statement regarding the news. "Words cannot begin to express my joy that two other men may have been cured of HIV," Brown said. "This reinforces my determination and belief that we must fulfill my Foundation’s central mission of investing in cutting-edge therapies and treatments to advance AIDS cure research. As I have said many times before, I want everyone to be cured of this disease. We can only hope that this case and today’s development represents the beginning of the end of this plague."