An American from New York has become the third person to be cured of HIV/AIDS thanks to a new technique of transplanting stem cells from umbilical cord blood, reports American media, who attend the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Infections Opportunists, which is being held virtually from Denver, Colorado.
In recent years, two men – dubbed patients from Berlin and London – have reportedly been cured after undergoing high-risk bone marrow transplants to treat cancer.
Cord blood is much easier to obtain than the adult stem cells used in bone marrow transplants. Moreover, the donor does not have to be so closely matched with the recipient, a reality that holds out hope for the treatment of dozens of people with both HIV and cancer.
The woman, dubbed the New York patient, was diagnosed with HIV in 2013 and leukemia in 2017. She is being followed at New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center.
To treat her cancer, she received cord blood from a partially matched donor, instead of the usual practice of finding a bone marrow donor of similar ethnicity to the patient. This data is particularly important in this specific case, since the woman is of mixed racial origin.
The patient also received blood transfusions from a relative to allow her body to develop temporary immune defenses for the duration of the transplant.
According to the researchers, this new case marks a significant advance in the development of a treatment for HIV due to the patient’s gender and mixed racial background.
Another patient, a 34-year-old Brazilian, is said to have cleared the virus through treatment combining several antiviral drugs.
Two women, one from San Francisco, USA, and one from Esperanza, Argentina, are said to have gotten rid of HIV without antiretroviral treatment or bone marrow transplants.