Acute myeloid leukemia patient cured of hiv, german scientists believe

Acute myeloid leukemia patient cured of hiv, german scientists believe

An HIV patient who also has acute myeloid leukemia has probably been cured of HIV infection after a stem-cell transplant combined with high-dose chemotherapy and radiation therapy, German researchers report in the medical journal Blood. The stem cells were immature cells with the capability of developing into blood cells.

Although probably not a treatment advance, if the man is really cured of HIV, which appears to be the case, this will definitely represent a scientific advance, the authors say. The procedure may not be safe or feasible for the wider population, they cautioned.

The authors wrote:

    "Our results strongly suggest that cure of HIV has been achieved in this patient."
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML), also known as acute myelogenous leukemia or acute nonlymphocytic leukemia, is a rapidly progressive malignant (cancerous) disease in which there are too many immature blood-forming cells in the bone marrow and the blood - the cells that are destined to become white blood cells that form part of our immune system - granulocytes or monocytes. These immature blood cells (blasts) do not mature and the body accumulates too many of them.

In 2007 the patient stopped taking anti-HIV drugs, had his own immune system effectively wiped out with high-dose chemo- and radiotherapy and also received a stem cell transplant.

The stem cell donor had an extremely rare gene mutation which protects him from HIV infection - i.e. the donor cannot contract HIV.

Although anti-retroviral therapy to suppress HIV had been stopped, the patient has shown no signs of HIV for over 36 months since the transplant occurred.

There was a recurrence of leukemia 13 months after the transplant, the authors informed. He subsequently underwent further chemotherapy and radiation therapy and received another stem-cell transplant from the same donor with the rare genetic protection from HIV.

Even though the stem cells had a rare, inherited gene mutation, the researchers, from Charite - University Medicine Berlin, Germany, had expected the HIV to eventually make a comeback. However, this has not occurred.

"Evidence for the cure of HIV infection by CCR5{Delta}32/{Delta}32 stem cell transplantation"

Kristina Allers, Gero Hütter, Jörg Hofmann, Christoph Loddenkemper, Kathrin Rieger, Eckhard Thiel, and Thomas Schneider

Blood DOI 10.1182/blood-2010-09-309591

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Section Issues On Medicine: Disease