Leukaemia Treatment 'Cures' Man of HIV


JF-Expert Member
Feb 12, 2007
Leukaemia Treatment 'Cures' Man of HIV
A bone marrow transplant has successfully treated both fatal diseases

An HIV positive man who received a bone marrow transplant after developing leukaemia appears to have been cured of HIV.

The American man in his forties was living in Berlin when he developed acute myeloid leukaemia. When chemotherapy failed to treat his condition, he was given two bone marrow stem cell transplants chosen from a donor who had a natural genetic resistance to HIV.

Around one to three in every hundred people have a gene mutation which gives them a natural resistance to HIV. The virus can only infect human cells by interacting with two 'receptors' located on the surface of the cell, known as the CD4 and CCR5 receptors. However, a small minority of people with a genetic mutation lack the CCR5 receptor, making it extremely difficult for the virus to enter their cells.

The HIV patient's doctors deliberately chose a bone marrow donor with the gene mutation.

Three years on and the man is free of both HIV and leukaemia and is not being treated with anti-retroviral medicines. No trace of the virus has been found in the blood or other parts of the body where HIV can hide, such as the intestines, lymph nodes or the brain.

All of the patient's new blood and bone marrow cells are of the HIV-resistant kind, without the CCR5 receptor.

However, as bone marrow transplants are risky and complicated procedures, they cannot be widely used as a cure for HIV.

Writing in the journal Blood, doctors from the Charite University Hospital in Berlin said their findings "strongly suggest that cure of HIV has been achieved" in the patient.

Yahoo Health


JF-Expert Member
Jan 19, 2008
Doctors ‘cure' leukemia by using HIV to rewire immune system

December, 2012, 14:16

A woman carries a dropper of her daughter, patient of the oncology unit, in the RDKB.(AFP Photo / Natalia Kolesnikova)

Doctors have successfully used a disabled version of HIV to modify a 7-year-old leukemia patient's white blood cells to attack her cancer. The breakthrough procedure could potentially replace bone marrow transplant as a leukemia treatment.
Emma Whitehead was selected as a patient for the experimental technique after two years of battling with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the New York Times reported. Chemotherapy failed to either cure the disease or result in a period of remission long enough for a bone marrow transplant.
The process was previously tested only on adult patients. In April, Whitehead became the first child to undergo the treatment, her medical team revealed during an annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology in Atlanta last weekend. She was also the first patient to be treated for her kind of leukemia.
Doctors from the University of Pennsylvania and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia manipulated Whitehead's immune system to make it target cancer cells. They took a batch of her own T cells – a kind of white blood cell – and genetically engineered them to kill the B cells – another kind of white blood cell – responsible for her disease.

To do this, the doctors used a modified and disabled form of HIV, the virus responsible for AIDS, to alter the T cells' genes, making them produce a protein called a chimeric antigen receptor on their surface. This artificial protein matches another protein encountered only on the surface of B cells. The alteration allows T cells to attach to B cells, and destroy them. The genetically engineered T cells were then injected back into Whitehead's blood, where they could reproduce on their own.
Two months after the procedure, testing revealed there was no sign of cancer in the girl's body. The altered T cells were still present in her blood, but in smaller quantities than during treatment. Six months later, Whitehead is still in remission and is now back in school.

The experimental treatment has not yet been fully tested: Whitehead nearly died when the procedure caused a spontaneous high fever, and other near-fatal symptoms.
Not all of the 12 patients in the clinical trial responded to the treatment as well as Whitehead: Three adults with chronic leukemia had complete remissions; four improved their condition, but did not beat the disease completely; one is still in too early a stage to evaluate; two patients saw no effect from the treatment; another child initially responded, but eventually relapsed.
The treatment also kills healthy B cells along with malignant ones, making patients vulnerable to certain types of infections; patients require regular treatments of immune globulins to prevent illness.
T cell therapy appears to be a promising medical breakthrough that may replace older bone marrow treatments, the researchers said. They plan to conduct additional trials with at least a half-dozen patients over the next year.




JF-Expert Member
Jan 19, 2008
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