by XMRV Global Action
The “Berlin Patient”—a man living with HIV who underwent a transplant involving HIV-resistant stem cells in 2007 for the treatment of leukemia—has been classified as cured of his HIV, according to an update of the patient’s experience published online, ahead of print, on December 8 by the journal Blood. The man has remained off HIV treatment for three-and-a-half years with normal CD4 counts and no evidence of HIV replication.
The intriguing case, first reported at 15th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in 2008, involved a 40-year-old American HIV-positive man living in Berlin with a relapse of acute myeloid leukemia—a potentially fatal cancer of the immune system—in February 2007. Rather than simply performing a transplant that would increase the patient’s chance of cancer survival, Gero Huetter, MD, of the University Medicine Berlin and his colleagues opted to perform a transplant that might also increase the patient’s chance of surviving HIV.
Huetter asked the blood and tissue bank if any of its stem cell donors had a particular genetic defect, called the CCR5 delta-32 deletion. This defect prevents CD4 cells from developing a receptor, called CCR5, on their surfaces. People who inherit this genetic mutation from both parents have CD4 cells that lack the CCR5 entirely and, as a result, are highly resistant to HIV.