An HIV cure has failed in two Boston patients, it has been reported. Scientists are saying that the virus has recurred in the blood of the patients in which it had been hoped were healed of the virus.
These disappointing medical events are yet another advisory tale of how researchers can never afford to take too lightly how HIV has the ability to hide out inside the human body and can overcome even the most resourceful efforts that are used to fight it.
Both Boston patients had caused much optimism to be raised among HIV researchers since the middle of 2012, when scientists cautiously stated to the public that it was possible that bone marrow transplants they had had might had eradicated HIV from each of their systems.
As of this time, the only individual that is known to have been cured of HIV so far is Timothy Brown, age 47, who lives in the United States. He has been known worldwide as the “Berlin patient” due to him having his bone marrow transplant in Germany over six years ago. A toddler, who is from the state of Mississippi, was treated with antiviral drugs within 36 hours of her birth. She could be considered the second individual cured if she continues to stay free of the virus inside her body.
However the Boston patients, neither of whom has been named, would have represented something new and reassuring.
The patient in Germany had received bone marrow from a donor who was inherently resistant to the HIV virus. But the Boston patients’ marrow donors did not have any such advantage. Therefore this raised the hope that anti-HIV drugs could possibly be enough to remove the virus from the human body, when they were combined in treatment with a bone marrow transplant.
The researchers also believed that an immune response known as graft-versus-host disease, could have possibly aided in the possible vanishing of HIV in the two patients’ systems. With GVH, such transplanted cells end up attacking and then killing the patient’s own bone marrow, and conceivably helping to aid in the destruction of any HIV cells that could be hiding.
But it was obviously not to be. Scientists declared that the potential cures had happened back in July of this year, when the two patients had been off anti-HIV drugs for seven and 15 weeks, respectively. One patient had had a bone marrow transplant three years earlier, and the other’s was five years in the past. However, they had continued taking anti-HIV drugs until earlier this year.
Yet in August, HIV reappeared in one of the patient’s blood, and in November, it re-emerged in the second patient. Both individuals have now returned to taking anti-HIV medications, and will most likely be on them for the rest of their lives. The drugs have proven to help in subduing HIV in both patients’ systems, but they do not eliminate it.
Even as disappointing as the Boston test has turned out to be, researchers have stated it has progressed HIV cure research. In fact, President Obama recently pronounced that $100 million project had been started to push the cause even harder.
Researchers explain that the negative results from the Boston experiment will give important information about what it will take in order to actually be able to treat HIV. However, it is sad that this HIV cure failed the two Boston patients.
By Kimberly Ruble