Dr. Timothy Henrich, a medical researcher with Harvard Medical School and Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, announced today that two of his HIV-positive patients showed no trace of the virus after receiving stem-cell transplants.
His study and research was supported by amfAR, which issues a press release with additional information:
Dr. Timothy Henrich of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston today reported on the case of two HIV-positive patients who show no trace of virus following stem-cell transplants. The findings were presented at the International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The patients had been on long-term antiretroviral therapy for HIV when they developed lymphoma. To treat the cancer, the patients underwent reduced intensity chemotherapy followed by stem-cell transplants. Since the transplants, Dr. Henrich has been unable to find any evidence of HIV infection.
… It is also unclear how long viral rebound might take in a patient whose viral reservoirs have been dramatically depleted, but not eradicated. According to amfAR/ARCHE grantee Dr.Robert Siciliano of Johns Hopkins University, it may take over a year. Previously a patient in a study by the National Institutes of Health had gone 50 days after treatment withdrawal without viral rebound. Dr. Henrich’s patients are at or beyond this threshold, and more definitive answers will emerge as these patients continue to be closely monitored.
“These findings clearly provide important new information that might well alter the current thinking about HIV and gene therapy,” said amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost. “While stem-cell transplantation is not a viable option for people with HIV on a broad scale because of its costs and complexity, these new cases could lead us to new approaches to treating, and ultimately even eradicating, HIV.”