Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Toward a cure for retroviruses


"It's known that if you're lucky enough to have this mutation, the delta32 CCR5, from both your parents -- something we call homozygous, technically -- you are resistant to getting infected by most forms of HIV."

"number 61 turned out to have the delta32 CCR5 mutation that would make the cells being put back into the body of the Berlin patient resistant to virtually any kind of HIV we know of."

"If you vaccinate someone, say, against the measles or polio and test them for antibodies a year or five years later, he or she will be positive for antibodies. But as you start getting on in time from that initial vaccination -- and it's why we give boosters against certain diseases -- the antibody levels fall off. And that's what's happening to this patient.

"It has been about two and a half years since the patient has been off of all of his antiviral drugs and had the transplant, and he still has absolutely no detectable virus, either active virus or latent virus.

"I predict that, in a couple of years, his HIV antibody test will be negative."His antibody levels -- we call them titers -- are declining just the way you'd expect them to if you'd given someone a vaccination against HIV and then looked at the levels of antibodies. They'd be very strong in the beginning, but would weaken if they are not re-exposed to the virus.

"We believe this person has no HIV in his body and therefore there is nothing to re-expose him, so the concentration of HIV antibodies in his blood is decreasing. I predict that, in a couple of years, his HIV antibody test will be negative."

"This could never, ever have been done in the United States first. It could be done in Europe because they have a socialized medicine system. No one asked the question who's paying for this."


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