Color scanning electron microscope image showing HIV entering host cells – NYT . Screenshot
Since receiving cord blood to treat acute myeloid leukemia – a cancer that starts in blood-forming cells in the bone marrow – the woman’s condition has been in remission.
Even more surprising, the patient’s body was clear of the HIV virus in 14 months without the need for strong HIV treatments.
This woman’s case was reported at a conference in Denver (USA) on February 15. This is the third case of HIV recovery but the first female case globally.
According to Reuters news agency, this woman was identified as belonging to a multiracial group. The first two cases were male, one white and one Latino.
The woman who was cured of HIV is part of a group of 25 participants in a research project led by Dr Yvonne Bryson of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) campus and Dr Deborah Persaud of Johns Hopkins University.
25 people living with HIV received stem cell transplants from umbilical cord blood to treat cancer and other serious conditions. Stem cell transplantation from cord blood is a new method and is expected to help treat more people.
The patient must first undergo chemotherapy to destroy the cancerous immune cells. Doctors will then transplant stem cells from individuals with specific genetic mutations, including mutations that lack the receptors used by the virus as a way to enter cells.
Scientists believe the process helped the patient develop an immune system that was resistant to HIV. The study also found that a key success factor was the transplant of HIV-resistant cells.
Previously, scientists had hypothesized that the immune system from the donor would continue to work and attack pathogens in the recipient’s body.
Some scientists who were not involved in the study considered this to be positive news for humanity in the long-term battle against the HIV virus. The fact that the person being cured is female and multiracial is a significant success, according to the report New York Times.