Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Two stem cell patients stop HIV drugs, show no detectable sign of the virus

Two HIV-positive patients in the United States who underwent bone marrow transplants for cancer have stopped antiretroviral therapy and still show no detectable sign of HIV.

KUALA LUMPUR // Two HIV-positive patients in the United States who underwent bone marrow transplants for cancer have stopped antiretroviral therapy and still show no detectable sign of HIV.

The Harvard University researchers stressed it was too early to say the men have been cured, but said it was an encouraging sign that the virus has not rebounded in their blood months after drug treatment ended.

The researchers, Timothy Henrich and Daniel Kuritzkes of the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, announced last year that blood samples taken from the men - who both had blood cancers - showed no traces of HIV eight months after they received bone marrow transplants to replace cancerous blood cells with healthy donor cells. The men were still on anti-HIV drugs at the time.

The men have both since stopped antiretroviral therapy - one 15 weeks ago and the other seven weeks ago - and show no signs of the virus, Mr Henrich told an international Aids conference in Malaysia yesterday.

"They are doing very well," Mr Henrich said. "While these results are exciting, they do not yet indicate that the men have been cured. Only time will tell."

The HIV may be hiding in other organs such as the liver, spleen or brain and could return months later.

Further testing of the men's cells, plasma and tissue for at least a year will help give a clearer picture on the full effect of the transplant on HIV persistence, he said.

The first person reported to be cured of HIV, the American Timothy Ray Brown, underwent a stem cell transplant in 2007 to treat his leukaemia. He was reported by his German doctors to have been cured of HIV two years later.

Mr Brown's doctors used a donor who had a rare genetic mutation that provides resistance against HIV. So far, no one has observed similar results using ordinary donor cells such as those given to the two Boston patients.

Mr Kuritzkes said the patients will be put back on the drugs if there is a viral rebound.

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 The Doha-based Youssef Al Qaradawi speaks to the crowd as he leads Friday prayers in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt in February, 2011. The outspoken pro-Muslim Brotherhood imam has been critical of the UAE’s policies toward Islamist groups, adding to friction between Qatar and other GCC states. Khalil Hamra / AP Photo

Brotherhood imam skips Doha sermon, but more needed for GCC to reconcile

That Youssef Al Qaradawi did not speak raises hopes that the spat involving Qatar and the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain might be slowly moving towards a resolution.

 Twitter photo of  Abdel Fattah El Sisi on the campaign trail on March 30. Photo courtesy-Twitter/@SisiCampaign

El Sisi rides a bicycle, kicks off social media storm

The photos and video created a huge buzz across social media networks, possibly a marker of a new era for Egypt.

 An Afghan election commission worker carries a ballot box at a vote counting centre in Jalalabad on April 6. A roadside bomb hit a truck carrying full ballot boxes in northern Afghanistan, killing three people a day after the country voted for a successor to President Hamid Karzai. Eight boxes of votes were destroyed in the blast, which came as the three leading candidates voiced concerns about possible fraud. Noorullah Shirzada / AFP Photo

Two pressing questions for Afghanistan’s future president

Once in office, the next Afghan president must move fast to address important questions that will decide the immediate future of the country.

 Friday is UN Mine Awareness Day and Omer Hassan, who does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan, is doing all he can to teach people about the dangers posed by landmines. Louise Redvers for The National

A landmine nearly ended Omer’s life but he now works to end the threat of mines in Iraq

Omer Hassan does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan and only has to show people his mangled leg to underscore the danger of mines. With the world marking UN Mine Awareness Day on Friday, his work is as important as ever as Iraq is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.

 Supporters of Turkey's ruling AKP cheer as they follow the election's results in front of the party's headquarters in Ankara on March 30. Adem Altan/ AFP Photo

Erdogan critic fears retaliation if he returns to Turkey

Emre Uslu is a staunch critic of Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Now, with a mass crackdown on opposition expected, he is unsure when he can return home.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National