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article imageGerman Doctor Accidentally Cures AIDS With Bone Marrow Transplant

By Chris V. Thangham     Nov 8, 2008 in Health
A doctor from Germany treated an American patient suffering from leukemia. He not only cured the leukemia, but also the patient’s AIDS in the process.
Dr. Gero Hütter, 39, is the new hero who discovered an AIDS cure, and the most surprising thing is he is not an AIDS specialist. He treated a 42-year-old American living in Berlin who had leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant.
After a successful surgery, the patient is recovering but seems to be free from AIDS as well. Doctors have not been able to detect the HIV virus that causes AIDS in his blood stream for more than 600 days even after the patient stopped taking AIDS medications. The doctors said when a patient stops taking AIDS medication, the virus usually regenerates very quickly, within weeks or days. However, they were surprised not to see any of it in the patient.
Dr. Hütter was extremely surprised with the result. The phenomenon happened after Hütter deliberately replaced the patient's bone marrow cells with those from a donor who had a naturally occurring genetic mutation (CCR5 mutation) that renders his cells immune to almost all strains of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
However, he had a hard time initially finding such bone marrow cells, but luckily found one exact match after working with various samples from donors.
If this method is successful for other patients, this type of gene therapy technique will be much better than the regular AIDS treatment, which requires daily intake of antiretroviral for a lifetime, making it extremely expensive for patients. Last year alone, AIDS killed more than two million people out of the total 2.7 million that contracted the virus. If gene therapy technique works, then it will save thousands of lives.
The case was presented to scientists earlier this year at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections.
More about HIV, Bone marrow, Cure
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