A woman of mixed race becomes the third patient in the world to be cured of HIV, and the first one to do it using a cord blood stem cell transplant.
On Tuesday February 15th, the case was presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. She received a combination of adult bone marrow and umbilical cord stem cells that contained a CCR5 gene mutation, which has been known to provide immunity against HIV. Using cord blood in this case meant that the patient only needed to be a partial genetic match, which means that it will be a treatment that can be made available to a more genetically diverse patient population. All three patients received the stem cell transplants as treatment for cancer, however the presence of the CCR5 gene additionally cured their HIV. The other two patients received adult bone marrow transplants, and both developed the severe complication of graft-versus-host disease. This woman had no serious complications from her transplant and has been off all HIV medication for over a year. This may be related to the use of the cord blood but is also important in proving that GVHD was not part of the process of the cure.
This case is part of a larger US study that will use cord blood stem cell transplants with CCR5 genes as part of treatment for 25 HIV patients with other serious medical conditions making them eligible for transplants.