As Gupta explains the case and cure in question, a 40-year-old American working in Berlin had been HIV-positive for 10 years. The patient’s HIV infection had been under control for four years with “conventional HAART treatment regimen” (Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy).
When the patient developed leukemia, however, a bone marrow transplant of stem cells was done using standard protocol, which Gupta said includes radiation therapy and chemotherapy prior to the transplant.
“Remember, once you stop HIV drugs, the HIV viral count rises very rapidly, usually within a few days to a week,” Gupta said.
According to Gupta, Huetter, the German physician treating the American, deliberately chose a stem cell donor who had a gene mutation known as “CCR-5 Delta- 32,” rather than using the best matched donor.
Gupta said Huetter remembered research first observed in 1996 - research Gupta said is well known in the scientific community. That research found that certain gay men in the San Francisco area remained uninfected with HIV in spite of engaging in risky sexual activities. As it was later discovered, those men had the CCR-5 Delta-32 gene mutation.
As it turned out, the patient’s stem cell transplant was a success, Gupta said, even though the patient had to have a second stem cell transplant (from the same donor) when his leukemia relapsed.
“This patient has been off all his HIV drugs for two years now,” Gupta said. “He continues to show no detectable signs of HIV in all the known places HIV is detected — no signs of HIV in his blood, bone marrow, lymph nodes, intestines or brain.” Also, the patient’s T-cell count remains normal.
Thus, according to Gupta, within the limits of scientists’ ability to detect HIV, it appears this patient’s HIV has been “eradicated.”
The gene mutation CCR-5 Delta-32 is found mostly in white European populations, especially northern Europeans and Scandanavians, according to Gupta, who is on the staff of South Baldwin Regional Medical Center and served as chief of medicine in 2008.
“Those who have this gene mutation from both parents are completely resistant to most common forms of HIV infection. You can get tested for it if you wish,” he said.
“It is believed that this genetic mutation may have happened during long periods of small pox, plague and other pandemics that devastated European populations.” From here
1.) World AIDS Day
2.) The gene that is resistant to AIDS. Stanford University page.
3.) 10% of Europeans resistant to AIDS, Science Daily
4. ) The Black Death and AIDS