Tag Archives: Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation

I Am Living Proof That There Could Be a Cure For AIDS!

Timothy Ray Brown, known as the “Berlin Patient” and the only person to have been cured of AIDS, holds a press conference to announce the launch of the Timothy Ray Brown Foundation at the Westin City Center hotel on July 24, 2012 in Washington, DC. “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy,” Brown said of the treatment process that eventually cured him. Planned to launch during the International AIDS Conference being held in Washington, the foundation will work to focus efforts on finding a cure for HIV and Aids. — AFP Photo

The only person believed to have been cured of HIV infection through a bone marrow transplant said Tuesday he feels wonderful and is launching a new foundation to boost research toward a cure.

Timothy Ray Brown, 47, an American from Seattle, Washington, rose to fame as the so-called “Berlin patient” after doctors tried a novel technique to use an HIV-resistant donor for a stem cell transplant to treat Brown’s leukemia.

Since 2007, he has had two high-risk bone marrow transplants and continues to test negative for HIV, stunning researchers and offering new pathways for research into how gene therapy may lead to a more widely acceptable approach.

“I am living proof that there could be a cure for AIDS,” Brown told AFP in an interview. “It’s very wonderful, being cured of HIV.”

Brown looked frail as he spoke to reporters in Washington where the 19th International AIDS Conference, the world’s largest meeting of scientific experts, policymakers and advocates is taking place.

The bone marrow transplant he received carried significant risks and may be fatal to one in five patients who undergo it. But he said his only complaint these days is the occasional headache.

He also said he was aware that his condition has generated some controversy, but disputed the claims of some scientists who believe he may still have traces of HIV in his body and may remain infectious to others.

“Yes, I am cured,” he said. “I am HIV negative.”

Brown said he fully supports more aggressive efforts toward finding a universal cure, and has met with a number of top scientists in recent days who have treated him “like a rock star.”

He said he hopes to harness some of that fame to encourage donors to fund more research, and noted that Europe and China spend far more on cure research than the United States.

“There are thousands of very able researchers who cannot get funded for research, so I want to change that. And there are a lot of researchers who are willing to work to find a cure for HIV.”

Brown was a student in Berlin, Germany, when he tested positive for HIV in 1995 and was told he probably had about two years to live.

But combination antiretroviral therapy emerged on the global market a year later, and eventually transformed HIV from a death sentence into a manageable condition for millions of people worldwide.

Brown tolerated the medications well but due to persistent fatigue he visited a doctor in 2006 and was diagnosed with leukemia. He underwent chemotherapy, which led to pneumonia and sepsis, nearly killing him.

His doctor, Gero Huetter, had the idea of trying a bone marrow transplant using a donor who had a CCR5 receptor mutation.

People without that receptor appear to be resistant to HIV because they lack the gateway through which the virus can enter the cells. But such people are rare, and are believed to consist of one percent of the northern European population.

It would be an attempt to cure cancer and HIV at the same time.

Brown’s leukemia returned in 2007, and he underwent a bone marrow transplant using stem cells from a CCR5 mutation donor, whom he has never met in person. He stopped taking antiretrovirals at the same time.

He soon had no HIV detectable in his system. His leukemia returned though, and he underwent a second bone marrow transplant in 2008, using stem cells from the same donor.

Brown said his recovery from the second operation was more complicated and left him with some neurological problems, but he continues to be free of leukemia and HIV.

Asked if he feels like his cure was a miracle, Brown was hesitant to answer.

“It’s hard to say. It depends on your religious belief, if you want to believe it’s just medical science or it was a divine intervention,” he told AFP. “I would say it’s a little bit of both.”

Original Article

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Nobel laureate, discoverer of HIV, says a cure for HIV is in sight!

Photo: REUTERS/Bob Strong
Françoise Barré-Sinoussi is the Nobel laureate who co-discovered the HIV virus.

The Nobel laureate who helped to discover HIV says a cure for AIDS is in sight following recent discoveries, in an interview with AFP ahead of AIDS 2012, the global conference for HIV.

Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2008 as part of a team that discovered the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), said scientific research was zeroing in on a cure for the illness.

She cited a patient in Berlin who appears to have been cured through a bone marrow transplant, “which proves that finding a way of eliminating the virus from the body is something that is realistic.”

Interested in that story? – it’s fascinating, here’s the links :

Other sources of optimism are the small minority of patients — less than 0.3 percent — who exhibit no symptoms of the virus without ever receiving treatment; and a small group in France who received antiretroviral drugs and now live without treatment or symptoms, Barre-Sinoussi said.

“There is hope… but don’t ask me for a date because we do not know.”

She also said that it would be possible “in principle” to eliminate the AIDS pandemic by 2050, if barriers to drug access could be eliminated.

The main barriers there were not scientific but political, economic and social, she said: the problem was lack of access to testing and drugs in poor and rural areas, as well as the stigma around the virus, which undermines early detection and treatment.

Some 25,000 people — including celebrities, scientists and HIV sufferers — are expected in the US capital on Sunday to call for more strident global action to address the three-decade AIDS epidemic.

Deaths and infections are down in the parts of the world most ravaged by the disease, while the number of people on treatment has risen 20 percent from 2010 to 2011, reaching eight million people in needy countries.

However this is only about half the people who should be on treatment worldwide, suggesting much more remains to be done.

More than 34 million people worldwide are living with HIV, a higher number than ever before, and around 30 million have died from AIDS-related causes since the disease first emerged in the 1980s, according to UNAIDS.

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A Message of Hope for a HIV Cure from Timothy Brown

Timothy Brown revealed himself last year as the "Berlin Patient." His HIV was cured through a bone marrow transplant from a donor born with a genetic mutation resistant to the virus. Courtesy of Timothy Brown

He’s been called the “Berlin Patient” and the man who was cured of HIV.  Today, Timothy Brown is speaking in Houston tonight about the bone marrow transplant from a donor born with resistance to the infection that essentially cured his HIV.

Brown, 45, was diagnosed with HIV in 1995. For more than a decade, he managed the virus with antiretroviral medications while continuing his career as a German-English translator in Berlin.

He was diagnosed with leukaemia in the summer of 2006. Brown was treated with chemotherapy but decided to wait on receiving stem cells from a bone marrow transplant believing it was too dangerous. His oncologist was concerned about the delay, predicting the blood cancer might return. The doctor was right. The leukaemia was back by the end of the year.

Brown underwent a stem cell transplant via bone marrow in February 2007.

“I had a lot of possible donors, but the doctor decided to look for a person that didn’t have the CCR5,” Brown said in a phone interview from San Francisco, where he now resides.

CCR5 is a protein or co-receptor that connects with CD4 cells or primary white blood cells in the immune system. That link is a pathway that allows HIV to cause infection. Without CCR5, a genetic variation, HIV can’t invade the immune system. About 10 percent of Northern Europeans have the mutation.

Brown’s case was documented in a February 2009 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

“They found a donor who carried a well-known set of mutations that makes one resistant to HIV,” said Dr. Thomas Giordano, a longtime HIV specialist and medical director of Houston’s Thomas Street Health Center – the Harris County Hospital District‘s HIV/AIDS treatment facility. “Two things are required: CD4, which everyone has, and CCR5, which almost everyone has. If one of them is absent, HIV can’t get in.”

The leukemia returned again and Brown had a second stem cell transplant in 2008 from the same donor.

So, has Brown really beaten HIV?

“He’s cured,” said Giordano, also an associate professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. “I think it’s pretty well accepted that he’s cured. Just like any other chronic illness, you have to reserve a little bit of caution. Could his HIV come back? It’s been theoretically possible, but it’s pretty clear it should have come back by now, but it hasn’t.”

Giordano said the Brown case demonstrates the promise of gene therapy in the fight against HIV/AIDS, but he cautions that Brown is one person in a single experiment.

“A bone marrow transplant, especially from an unrelated donor, is a risky proposition,” Giordano said. “If you have HIV and you are healthy and your viral load is undetectable, your survival is approaching that of someone who does not have HIV. To take the risk of a bone marrow transplant makes no sense at all – unless you have leukemia.”

Even with this advancement, a cure remains “many, many years away,” the doctor added.

“What it has done is quickened the pace of investigation of gene therapies to treat HIV. If you could convert people from having CCR5 to not having CCR5 in some way other than a bone marrow transplant, could you cure people? That’s the avenue that’s being researched now.”

Giordano added that Brown’s case offers hope for people living with HIV/AIDS.

“He is the first person to be cured of HIV. It was an extreme situation and extreme therapy, but it does give you some hope that we can learn enough from him to use a similar genetic approach that would be much safer to slow down, if not cure, the disease or make the need for medication less or something to help people out.”

Brown is speaking from tonight, 23:00 to 02:30 (gmt) (18:00 to 21:30 in Houston) Treebeards, 315 Travis, as part of a limited-seating cure for more information.

Here’s another recent piece about Brown from the Los Angeles Times.

Original Article by Cindy George at Chron.com

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