Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 24, 2013
In August 2012, we recounted the case of two Boston-area patients with HIV who received stem cell transplants for cancer at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. After receiving the stem cell transplants, both men showed no evidence of HIV in their blood or blood plasma and had dropping HIV antibody levels. At the time, their physicians were cautiously optimistic about the long-term prognosis for the patients because they were still on HIV anti-retroviral medications.
Now, nearly one year later, both patients have stopped anti-retroviral therapy. One patient stopped anti-retroviral therapy 15 weeks ago, and the other stopped seven weeks ago. Dr. Tim Henrich and Dr. Daniel Kuritzkes, physician-researchers in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have recently reported that both patients continue to have no detectable HIV or RNA in their blood cells.
“While these results are exciting, they do not yet indicate that the men have been cured,” said Dr. Henrich. “Long-term follow-up of at least one year will be required to understand the full impact of a bone marrow transplant on HIV persistence.”
The two patients, who have had longstanding HIV infections, first saw HIV vanish from their bodies after undergoing stem cell transplants three and five years ago, respectively, as a part of their blood cancer treatments at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center.
“The virus could still be present in other tissues, such as the brain or gastrointestinal tract,” said Dr. Henrich. “If the virus does return, it would suggest that these other sites are an important reservoir of infectious virus, and new approaches to measuring the reservoir at relevant sites will be needed to guide the development of cure strategies for HIV.”
Learn more about stem cells and their uses in medicine:
- Can a Stem Cell Transplant Cure AIDS?
- Growing Bone with Clay
- Unlocking the Mystery: Origin of New Heart Cells