Doctor convinced of first HIV cure

2012-09-13 08:27
A US man and his doctor are convinced that he remains cured of an HIV infection. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

A US man and his doctor are convinced that he remains cured of an HIV infection. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

St Louis - More than five years after a radical treatment, a San Francisco man and his German doctor are convinced that he remains the first person cured of infection with HIV, the virus that causes Aids.

Timothy Ray Brown, who is known as "The Berlin Patient" because of where he was treated, and Dr Gero Hutter made their first joint appearance in the US 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.

Brown, 46, was diagnosed with HIV in 1995. In 2006, he also developed leukaemia 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.

In an interview, 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 said enough time has passed to say without hesitation that Brown is cured, citing the same five-year standard after which some cancer patients are said to be cured.

Natural resistance


Brown, who now lives in San Francisco, grew up in Seattle and moved to Germany in 1993. After the HIV diagnosis he started on medication to prevent him from developing full-blown Aids.

He was attending a wedding in New York in 2006 when he became unusually tired. An avid cyclist, within weeks he could barely ride the bike and eventually was diagnosed with leukaemia.

Brown underwent chemotherapy but needed a blood stem cell transplant and turned to Hutter, a blood specialist at Heidelberg University.

Hutter suggested they seek a donor with a certain cell feature that gives them natural resistance to HIV infection. Only about 1% of the northern European population has this feature. Hutter theorised 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 sceptical," he said.

But within weeks, Hutter said, tests showed promise that Brown was cured. His case was described in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2009.

"I don't know if I really believed it was cured" until the journal publication, Brown said.

Gene therapy


Earlier this year, doctors in California found traces of HIV in Brown's tissue, leading to speculation that the disease had returned. But Hutter said the traces are remnants of the disease that can't replicate or cause a recurrence of the disease.

The symposium in St Louis was hosted by the university's Biologic Therapeutics Centre, which seeks to advance the use of gene therapy. Speakers said gene therapy has helped treat cancer, haemophilia and other diseases.

So far, Brown is the only person believed to have been cured of HIV. Hutter began procedures in 2008 with 12 other people who had both HIV and cancer, but some were too sick to undergo treatment, and others couldn't find matching donors or ran into other roadblocks.

- AP

Read more on:    stem cell research  |  health  |  research  |  hiv/aids
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
61 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

'Zuma's legacy will be judged by Nkandla'

The legacy of President Jacob Zuma is contingent on how he deals with the issue of upgrades to his Nkandla homestead, says Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 9360

The BlackBerry Curve 9360 smartphone comes preloaded with Blackberry OS7...

From R1595.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you feel...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.