How one person was spontaneously cured of HIV—and what that may mean in the fight against AIDS

human immunodeficiency virus hiv aids stem cell shutterstock
Credit: Kateryna Kon/Shutterstock

Twice, people infected with HIV have had levels of the virus in their bodies drop to undetectable levels after bone marrow transplants, never to return. Now it appears that a person may have cleared functional HIV with no outside help. If true, it would be the first known instance of a spontaneous cure.

Analysis of more than 1.5 billion cells taken from a patient known as EC2 showed no functional HIV copies in any of them, researchers report August 26 in Nature. The person still had some nonfunctional copies of the virus. While no one can say for sure that intact virus isn’t hiding in a cell somewhere in this person’s body, the finding suggests that some people’s immune systems can get the upper hand, essentially eliminating the pernicious and persistent virus.

Related article:  Can genetics predict a baby's risk of becoming an obese adult?

Researchers want to know how elite controllers quash the virus for long periods of time. It has been difficult to figure it out, [HIV researcher Satya] Dandekar says, because no one has recorded the first fight scenes between HIV and the elite controllers’ immune systems.

Follow the latest news and policy debates on agricultural biotech and biomedicine? Subscribe to our newsletter.

“Once you figure out the mechanism [by which] this is working, maybe you can figure what goes wrong in everyone else and fine-tune it,” [virologist Monica] Roth says. The researchers have eliminated some possibilities, but haven’t solved the mystery yet of how elite controllers achieve their status.

Read the original post

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
GLP Podcasts
Infographic: Here’s where GM crops are grown around the world today

Infographic: Here’s where GM crops are grown around the world today

Do you know where biotech crops are grown in the world? This updated ISAAA infographics show where biotech crops were ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

* indicates required
Email Lists
Send this to a friend