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Closer to a Cure?

Closer to a Cure?


The long-sought cure for HIV might be hidden deep in the body's bones--in the bone marrow, to be precise. Researchers in Germany have reported that a bone-marrow transplant to treat leukemia in a 42-year-old HIVer had a second surprising--and potentially blockbuster-effect. It has suppressed his HIV to undetectable levels for two-plus years without the need for antiretroviral treatment. The bone marrow donor carried a natural gene mutation that prevents CCR5 molecules from appearing on the surface of CD4 cells in the body. HIV uses this key portal to attach to and infect the immune-system cells. Without the portal, HIV is unable to penetrate the cells and make copies of itself, which is exactly what occurred when the donor's 'mutant' bone marrow was implanted. The researchers say they believe the man is now 'functionally cured' of his HIV infection, and they are hopeful that a gene-based therapy based on their findings could one day cure others--and perhaps all HIVers--of the disease.

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