'Berlin Man,' doctor convinced HIV cure is real


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Hum

ST. LOUIS (AP) ? The first person reportedly cured of HIV said Wednesday he is hopeful that medical advances will allow others suffering from the virus that causes AIDS to be cured, too.

Timothy Ray Brown of San Francisco is known as "The Berlin Patient" because of where he was treated. He and the doctor who treated him, Gero Hutter, made their first joint appearance in the U.S. on Wednesday when Hutter spoke at a symposium on gene therapy at Washington University in St. Louis.

Scientists are studying whether gene therapy can be used to rid the body of HIV. Some doctors remain skeptical that Brown, 46, is cured. His case was first reported in the media in 2008 and described in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2009.

Brown and Hutter, in an interview with The Associated Press during the symposium, said the passage of time is further proof that Brown is cured. Hutter cited the same five-year standard after which some cancer patients are said to be cured.

Brown was diagnosed with HIV in 1995. In 2006, he also developed leukemia while living in Germany. Hutter performed a blood stem cell transplant using a donor with a rare gene mutation that provides natural resistance to HIV. Hutter said that resistance transferred to Brown.

Brown said he feels great, has not needed HIV medication since the 2007 surgery, and is now active in a foundation named for him that seeks a cure for HIV.

Hutter suggested they seek a donor with a certain cell feature that gives them natural resistance to HIV infection. Only about 1 percent of the northern European population has this feature. Hutter theorized that a transplant from such a donor could make the recipient resistant to HIV.

Hutter said no one apparently had tried this, and his idea received mixed reaction from other doctors. "Some were very excited, but many were skeptical," he said.

But within weeks, Hutter said, tests showed promise that Brown was cured.

So far, Brown is the only person believed to have been cured of HIV.

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Haggis

awesome

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shakey

Natural resistance to HIV... gotta love evolution. This is an amazing process if it really works. I hope they can do more test and proceedures to fully get it going.

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Glassed Silver

Being a German I have this to say:

You're welcome!

You can dispose your monies of gratitude at the exit. :laugh:

On a more serious note: This is fabulous news! ^_^

Glassed Silver:mac

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Growled
Some doctors remain skeptical that Brown, 46, is cured.

I'm taking a wait and see attitude. I hope this cure lasts forever but it's not a sure thing yet.

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Spartan Erik

Well, he's not really "cured" 100%. They nuked him with chemo and radiation, which wiped out all of his immune cells and bone marrow. They then performed a marrow transplant from a MATCHING DONOR who also happened to have a mutation in a gene (specifically, a deletion) that would normally code for a receptor that allows HIV to bind and subsequently infect. Since that portion of the gene is mutated/deleted, the CCR5 receptor is defective/non-existent.

So, the new T cells being produced from his newly transplanted bone marrow do not have this receptor, so the remaining HIV particles in his system can't bind and cause subsequent infection. However, he's not virus free; he has a low enough viral load for the virus to be nearly undetectable, but theoretically he can still be infectious.

It would be nice if you could use gene therapy to deliver a gene that deletes CCR5 to make people resistant to HIV, but CCR5 may be important in other diseases and their pathogenesis. They need to do more studies on people living with the CCR5 deletion, and see if they are more susceptible to other diseases or conditions. Until then, the priority should continue to be prevention over treatment.

PS: The odds of finding a matching marrow donor that also has an extremely rare CCR5 deletion must be insanely low.. wish I had the numbers for these odds but I'm sure it's highly unlikely to reproduce this event in any more than a handful of instances.

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simplezz

Natural resistance to HIV... gotta love evolution. This is an amazing process if it really works. I hope they can do more test and proceedures to fully get it going.

From what I've read, the mutation arose on account of the black death (yersinia pestis). It's just a coincedence that the mutation affords protection against HIV.

That being said, I do hope this cure is permanent, and that HIV doesn't mutate to overcome it.

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CG-88

Wow that is amazing! One major step closer to providing a proper cure, well done!

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Memphis

Well, he's not really "cured" 100%. They nuked him with chemo and radiation, which wiped out all of his immune cells and bone marrow. They then performed a marrow transplant from a MATCHING DONOR who also happened to have a mutation in a gene (specifically, a deletion) that would normally code for a receptor that allows HIV to bind and subsequently infect. Since that portion of the gene is mutated/deleted, the CCR5 receptor is defective/non-existent.

So, the new T cells being produced from his newly transplanted bone marrow do not have this receptor, so the remaining HIV particles in his system can't bind and cause subsequent infection. However, he's not virus free; he has a low enough viral load for the virus to be nearly undetectable, but theoretically he can still be infectious.

It would be nice if you could use gene therapy to deliver a gene that deletes CCR5 to make people resistant to HIV, but CCR5 may be important in other diseases and their pathogenesis. They need to do more studies on people living with the CCR5 deletion, and see if they are more susceptible to other diseases or conditions. Until then, the priority should continue to be prevention over treatment.

PS: The odds of finding a matching marrow donor that also has an extremely rare CCR5 deletion must be insanely low.. wish I had the numbers for these odds but I'm sure it's highly unlikely to reproduce this event in any more than a handful of instances.

We spent time in lecture on this, this is not a long term viable solution for everyone as you are compromising your immune system by missing CCR5.

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