FEB 20, 2017 10:46 AM PST

Why There's No Cure for HIV Despite One Truly Cured Patient

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

The history of HIV/AIDS includes thousands of deaths, but only one person was ever considered "cured." This patient was a 40-year-old man who had been infected with HIV for over 10 years when he also developed leukemia. Following the standard treatment for leukemia, the patient underwent a bone marrow transplant. But he didn't receive stem cells from any donor. The stem cells this patient received contained a rare mutation called CCR5delta32, which showed high resistance to HIV. Indeed, following the transplant with HIV-resistant stem cells, the patient's HIV count remains undetectable, even without use of antiretroviral therapy.

Why did this treatment work for this Berlin patient, and why haven't more cases like this been replicated? For one thing, scientists aren't too sure why or how the stem cell transplant cured the HIV in the Berlin patient. In particular, the donor stem cells were HIV resistant, but not completely HIV proof, as there are other ways that HIV can infiltrate the system.

There are still many other considerations for why the treatment for the Berlin patient won't work in other HIV-positive patients. Watch the video to learn more.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
DEC 17, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 17, 2019
What to Expect From Boeing's Starliner Spacecraft
NASA’s Commercial Crew Program sports two major contenders for sending astronauts to the International Space Station from American soil for the first...
JAN 07, 2020
Plants & Animals
JAN 07, 2020
Baby Penguins Are Often Bullied to Death by Adults
Most people envision penguins as fun, happy-go-lucky birds residing in the Earth’s chilly polar regions, but that’s not always the case. In fac...
JAN 15, 2020
Earth & The Environment
JAN 15, 2020
2019 Was The Second Warmest Year on Record
Independent analyses from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have confirmed that 2019 was the second warmest year on recor...
FEB 13, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
FEB 13, 2020
Equations for Chaos: A Mathematic Paradox
Equations are ordered, elegant mathematical constructs used to describe specific patterns. Can you imagine some formulas depict the very opposite: chaos an...
FEB 13, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
FEB 13, 2020
What is Antimatter, the "Most Expensive" Substance on Earth?
Scientists have long theorized that our world shouldn't have existed, because the equal amount of matter and antimatter created during the toddlerhood...
FEB 16, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 16, 2020
ISS Poised to Receive Fresh Supplies by Tuesday
Life on the International Space Station isn’t quite as convenient as it is for the rest of us here on Earth. With no convenient restaurants or conven...
Loading Comments...