enters immune cells by fusing with a target cell’s surface membrane and
releasing viral genome into the host.
host membrane protein involvement is predominantly represented
by chemokine receptor CCR5, which is bound by glycoproteins expressed on HIV
is estimated that approximately one percent of the population carry a rare genetic mutation of the CCR5 receptor which confers an
innate resistance to HIV. Individuals carrying a deletion mutation called “CCRF-delta 32” lack this receptor altogether and are highly resistant
to infection by the most common forms of HIV-1.
recent article in Blood has reported on the first known case of HIV infection being
completely cured in a patient, who received a stem cell bone marrow transplant
from a donor who was a carrier of the CCR5-delta 32 deletion. The patient from Berlin, who had been infected with HIV for more
than five years and who had also developed myeloid leukaemia, received the
transplant which was designed to restore his
immune system after he had undergone extensive chemotherapy. After receiving
the initial transplant in 2007, HIV replication ceased in his system and after 27 months of HIV still being undetectable, an international
panel of hematologists, immunologists and HIV specialists convened to discuss the potential future implications
of the results and a report on the
meeting was published in Journal of the International AIDS Society.
still doctors expected rebound of the infection over time, as
complete eradication of the viral reservoir from all bodily tissue types was not thought to have been
Now, the most recent findings that the patient is still HIV-negative have led the German researchers to conclude that “the cure of HIV infection has been achieved in this
warn however, that the high risk procedure which only sees a 70% survival rate,
is not practical for wider use, especially when anti-retroviral
drugs can suppress HIV in most cases, but stem cell researchers around
the world are now working on ways to replicate the process in a way that doesn’t
pose life threatening.
David Baltimore, co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1975 and currently researching HIV-AIDS therapy, is in the process of preparing clinical trials and comments:
“The fact that the one patient who was treated then was effectively cured is I
think a very strong argument that you want to continue this kind of approach to the HIV problem".