A 42-year-old HIV patient with leukemia appears to have no detectable HIV in his blood and no symptoms after a stem cell transplant from a donor carrying a gene mutation that confers natural resistance to the virus that causes AIDS, according to a report published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
“The patient is fine,” said Dr. Gero Hutter of Charite Universitatsmedizin Berlin in Germany. “Today, two years after his transplantation, he is still without any signs of HIV disease and without antiretroviral medication.”
The case was first reported in November, and the new report is the first official publication of the case in a medical journal. Hutter and a team of medical professionals performed the stem cell transplant on the patient, an American living in Germany, to treat the man’s leukemia, not the HIV itself.
However, the team deliberately chose a compatible donor who has a naturally occurring gene mutation that confers resistance to HIV. The mutation cripples a receptor known as CCR5, which is normally found on the surface of T cells, the type of immune system cells attacked by HIV.
This is fantastic! This is a huge step forward.