HIV cure ?

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  • Thread starter aquitaine
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  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

HIV "cure"?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20110603/us_yblog_thelookout/first-man-functionally-cured-of-hiv [Broken]

Since HIV was discovered 30 years ago this week, 30 million people have died from the disease, and it continues to spread at the rate of 7,000 people per day globally, the UN says.

There's not much good news when it comes to this devastating virus. But that is perhaps why the story of the man scientists call the "Berlin patient" is so remarkable and has generated so much excitement among the HIV advocacy community.

Timothy Ray Brown suffered from both leukemia and HIV when he received a bone marrow stem cell transplant in Berlin, Germany in 2007. The transplant came from a man who was immune to HIV, which scientists say about 1 percent of Caucasians are. (According to San Francisco's CBS affiliate, the trait may be passed down from ancestors who became immune to the plague centuries ago. This Wired story says it was more likely passed down from people who became immune to a smallpox-like disease.)

What happened next has stunned the dozens of scientists who are closely monitoring Brown: His HIV went away.

"He has no replicating virus and he isn't taking any medication. And he will now probably never have any problems with HIV," his doctor Gero Huetter told Reuters. Brown now lives in the Bay Area, and suffers from some mild neurological difficulties after the operation. "It makes me very happy," he says of the incredible cure.

I'd like to know if it is the real deal or overhyped?
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #3
bobze
Science Advisor
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Old news. Please read the last paragraph here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIDS#Research_directions

But it doesn't look to me like a viable way of dealing with the disease. Finding a donor for each AIDS patient?
Not to mention you'll be on an equally expensive regime of immunosuppressants the rest of your life and more prone to infectious disease.

Its not a fix at all, its simply trading off one evil for another (not even necessarily the lesser one in some circumstance, ie; graft v host disease).
 
  • #4
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I didn't even know this was possible. Even if it was as you said "trading one evil in for another" it's still a big breakthrough.
 
  • #5
Ryan_m_b
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
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I didn't even know this was possible. Even if it was as you said "trading one evil in for another" it's still a big breakthrough.
I'm not so sure it is to be honest. Bone marrow transplants are expensive, require trained physicians, require a close match and leave the patient on immunosuppressants for the rest of their life thus increasing their chance of getting ill and thanks to the transplant are always at the risk of rejection.

In terms of solving the HIV endemic I don't see this as a viable route to a cure. It's interesting but doesn't really solve anything.
 

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