Stem Cell Transplant May Have Led To Cure For Man With Chronic, Potentially Fatal Virus

Shutterstock/The Image Party

Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
Font Size:

Researchers said Wednesday that a stem cell transplant may have led to a 66-year-old man becoming the fifth person to be cured of HIV.

The unnamed patient was diagnosed in 1988 with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), according to a statement from the Los Angeles area City of Hope medical center. He received a stem cell transplant at the age of 63 and has been in long-term remission ever since, the statement continued.

“When I was diagnosed with HIV in 1988, like many others, I thought it was a death sentence,” the patient said, according to the statement. “I never thought I would live to see the day that I no longer have HIV. City of Hope made that possible, and I am beyond grateful.”

The patient used antiretroviral drugs for more than 30 years to manage his HIV but eventually developed acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), according to a report from NBC News. He also developed acute myelogenous leukemia in 2018 and was treated with a blood stem cell transplant, according to Live Science. (RELATED: ‘Schlong COVID’: Tucker Asks Viewers For Best Alternative Names For Monkeypox)

The cells from the donor carried a “rare genetic mutation” called homozygous CCR5 delta 32 that makes the carrier resistant to HIV through changing the entryway the virus typically uses to invade white blood cells, Live Science continued. The HIV-resistant cells took over the patient’s immune system following the procedure, the outlet reported.

The patient stopped taking his HIV medication in March 2021 and has shown no signs of HIV replication since then, according to Live Science.

“While a transplant is not an option for most people with HIV, these cases are still interesting, still inspiring and illuminate the search for a cure,” infectious disease specialist Dr. Sharon Lewin told reporters prior to the International AIDS Conference in Montreal, NBC News reported.