This is an interesting case since it was somewhat stumbled upon by accident with a donor of cells that gives a natural resistance to the virus. A very small number of people have this and the theory was that a transplant with this resistance would cure the virus and so far it’s been 5 years and he claims to be free of it. Earlier this year though doctors in California found traces of HIV in his tissues so are they remnants or is the disease returning? His doctor said they were remnants and could not reproduce and create a reinfection.
Gene therapy has helped treat cancer and other diseases and it appears it is very difficult to find a match as what was done for this patient. So far he remains the one and only patient that has had the results that claim that he has been cured. BD
ST. LOUIS (AP) — More than five years after a radical treatment, a San Francisco man and his German doctor are convinced that he remains the first person cured of infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Timothy Ray Brown, who is known as "The Berlin Patient" because of where he was treated, and Dr. Gero Hutter made their first joint appearance in the U.S. on Wednesday when Hutter spoke at a symposium on gene therapy at Washington University in St. Louis. Scientists are studying whether gene therapy can be used to rid the body of HIV.
Brown, 46, was diagnosed with HIV in 1995. In 2006, he also developed leukemia while living in Germany. Hutter performed a blood stem cell transplant using a donor with a rare gene mutation that provides natural resistance to HIV. Hutter said that resistance transferred to Brown.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Brown said he feels great, has not needed HIV medication since the 2007 surgery, and is now active in a foundation named for him that seeks a cure for HIV
Hutter suggested they seek a donor with a certain cell feature that gives them natural resistance to HIV infection. Only about 1 percent of the northern European population has this feature. Hutter theorized that a transplant from such a donor could make the recipient resistant to HIV.
Hutter said no one apparently had tried this, and his idea received mixed reaction from other doctors. "Some were very excited, but many were skeptical," he said.
But within weeks, Hutter said, tests showed promise that Brown was cured. His case was described in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2009.