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HIV Can Be Cured With Stem Cell Therapy

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For years now there have been great excitement about the latest stem cell therapy being a practical cure for people who have been infected with the HIV virus.

The reason this therapy is making headlines is because with stem cell therapy you will not need daily medication as is the case with the antiretroviral drug.

Another advantage of this kind of treatment is that the therapy will keep fighting viruses and strengthen the immune system even if the virus remains present in the bloodstream.

Where did it all begin? Scientists and researchers looked at the DNA of people who are immune to the HIV virus.

The reason these people do not contract the virus is “due to a genetic mutation that prevents the virus from latching on to their immune cells”; people who are immune to HIV/AIDS are called elite controllers.

This was discovered in the mid nineties when researchers discovered that the DNA in elite controllers have mutated proteins called CCR5 that prevents the HIV from attaching and infecting the cell.

It is believed that only 1% of the world’s population has this mutation in the CCR5 protein and therefore makes this kind of therapy very expensive and rare.

“The Berlin Patient”, Timothy Brown, was the first patient to be cured of HIV. In 2007 when Timothy was diagnosed with a cancer called leukemia, his doctor from Berlin decided to test bone marrow transplantation on him.

He used the stem cells from an elite controller’s bone marrow to perform the transplants. The therapy was successful and cured him of cancer and HIV.

The idea behind bone marrow transplantation and stem cell therapy is to create elite controllers from elite controllers and build the infected patient’s immune system up until he is no longer prone to HIV.

Clinical trials on patients with HIV infections started in 2013 and the researchers are enjoying success, these patients are developing stronger immune systems already. Because of the fact that bone marrow stem cells from elite controllers are hard to come by, researchers are working on a modified version of the treatment.

They take stem cells from an infected patient’s own bone marrow and then genetically engineer a protein that resembles that of the mutated CCR5 protein in elite controllers, by transferring antiviral DNA to the cells.

All of this is done in a laboratory, and is a lengthy process, but they are hoping that in time this will become as simple a procedure as an injection.

 

For more information on this topic read this excellent article linked here

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