Blog Post

Adult Stem Cells May Cure HIV

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Journalist California researchers have announced plans to continue the research of a German doctor who was able to cure an American patient of HIV with an adult stem cell transplant. According to CBS News, Dr. Gero Hutter of Chairte Universtatsmedizin Berlin in Germany, was treating an American HIV patient for leukemia three years ago when he gave the patient a bone marrow transplant. The marrow came from a donor born with a rare genetic trait which essentially prevents HIV from infecting white blood cells. As Dr. Kim Mulvihill explained to CBS, the white blood cells contained in bone marrow normally have tiny receptors on their surface that act like a door that allows HIV to attach, enter, multiply and spread infection. “With this mutation, there are no receptors,” she said. “The virus cannot attach and in that way, cannot infect. To date, Hutter's patient has remained completely free of HIV.” Even though the patient was on antiretroviral drugs before the treatment, the patient no longer needs them. Now, researchers at the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine are planning to take Dr. Hutter’s work a step further. "What we have managed to make work in one individual patient, to make it more broadly available this potential therapy for a great many HIV patients", said Jeff Sheehy, who is on the board of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine. They will fund two projects, one at UCLA, the other at the City of Hope where scientists hope to use gene therapy and a patient’s own stem cells rather than search for cone marrow donors with the same rare trait. "You'll end up with an immune systems that is naturally resistant to HIV," said Sheehy. Aids researcher Dr. Jay Levy of UCSF described the approach as “elegant.” "To me, this is the wave of the future," Levy said. "You don't need a donor. You use the patient's white cell themselves and you change them genetically to be resistant to the virus." The first official publication of Dr. Hutter’s research appeared last week in the New England Journal of Medicine. © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®