US scientists report third case of HIV remission from stem cell treatmentLeigh Mc Gowranon February 16, 2022 at 10:44 Silicon RepublicSilicon Republic

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US scientists claim a woman living with HIV has had no detectable levels of the virus for 14 months after receiving a unique cord blood stem cell transplant. This makes her the first woman and the third person to have entered HIV remission following a stem cell treatment.

Cord blood is the blood that remains in the placenta and umbilical cord following a birth and is full of hematopoietic stem cells. These can turn into any kind of blood cell and can be used to treat blood disorders, immune deficiencies, metabolic diseases and some cancers, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

The US observational study had been examining the outcomes of 25 people living with HIV who underwent cord blood stem cell treatment of cancer, hematopoietic disease, or other underlying disease.

In these cases, the stem cells had a unique genetic mutation which lack CCR5 co-receptors, which is what HIV uses to infect cells. By killing off the cancerous cells with chemotherapy and then transplanting stem cells with this mutation, scientists theorise that people living with HIV can develop a HIV-resistant immune system.

The woman in question had been on antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV for four years before receiving a leukemia diagnosis. Prior to the stem cell treatment, the scientists claim her HIV was “well controlled but detectable.”

In 2017, she received a transplant of cord blood stem cells with the genetic mutation, along with adult donor cells from a relative to boost her recovery. After 100 days, she had fully engrafted with the stem cells and had no detectable trace of HIV. 37 months after the transplant, she stopped her ART treatment.

The study team claim that no HIV was detected in the participant’s system for 14 months, except one detection of trace amounts 14 weeks after stopping ART.

Cord blood is more widely available than the adult stem cells used in the previous two HIV remission cases. There also does not need to be as close of a genetic match for the patient, which means this treatment could cure more people of diverse racial backgrounds, The New York Times reported.

The researchers presented some of their findings at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. The research was conducted at the International Maternal Pediatric Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trial Network, funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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