There is a new hope for HIV and Cancer patients following the successful treatment of a HIV positive American woman.
According to Sciencealert.com, the woman becomes the third HIV patient to get fully cured from the virus after a Berlin patient, who unfortunately succumbed to cancer in 2020 and a London male patient who has been living without the virus for two years now.
The unidentified woman was diagnosed with the virus 10 years ago and had been subjected to ARV treatment to manage the disease.
That is however no longer the case after she underwent a revolutionary treatment for blood cancer that locked out HIV virus from accessing her body cells. The treatment was conducted by researchers from the International Maternal Pediatric Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials(IMPAACT).
Apart from HIV, the middle aged woman had been diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia, a condition that affects bone marrow, in 2017.
Since she was of mixed race heritage, there was a minimal chance for her to find a donor with matching tissue and researchers had to settle on another source of stem cells for the development of a new healthy bone marrow-umbilical cord blood.
However, blood from a newborn’s umbilicus, unlike most tissue transplants, does not require a perfect immunological match between the donor and the host.
Cord blood takes two weeks to settle in the host before generating white cells that will fight infections. The patient also received blood from a compatible relative to give her a temporal defense as the cord stem cells slowly generated white cells.
The cord cells that the woman received were advantageous since their DNA carried two copies of CCR5 delta-32 mutation. The small genetic difference changes the expression of CCR5 co-receptor that most HIV strains use to enter into body cells therefore making it difficult for the virus to enter the cells and destroy them.
Close to three months later after the transplant, all her white blood cells and myeloid cells were derived from the stem cells in the cord blood and not from her old bone marrow or her relative’s blood. With the method, the patient is less likely to experience side effects.
The research has however not been published or made public but was presented during the 2022 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections.
The conclusion however is that the treatment will not be available for all people living with HIV any time soon and the risks involved in the procedure only mean that the option is available for patients with life threatening blood cancer, since the chance of getting cured of HIV is just a bonus.