A woman referred to as ‘The New York patient’ has reportedly become the first female to be cured of HIV after undergoing a novel treatment involving an umbilical blood transplant.
Woman Cured Of HIV
It was gathered that the US-based patient, described as a person of “mixed-race”, was cured of HIV using a new transplant method involving umbilical cord blood that opens up the possibility of curing more people of diverse racial backgrounds than was previously possible.
The who was said to have been diagnosed with HIV in 2013, while she was confirmed to have leukemia in 2017, has become the first woman and the third person to date to be cured of HIV after receiving treatment at the New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center in the US.
“Well, this, first of all, tells us or confirms that a cure is indeed possible, and scientists need to keep working to find a cure,” Sharon Lewin, President-Elect of the International AIDS Society, said.
The case of the middle-aged woman of mixed race, presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Denver, is also the first involving umbilical cord blood, a newer approach that may make the treatment available to more people.
Since receiving the cord blood to treat her acute myeloid leukemia – a cancer that starts in blood-forming cells in the bone marrow – the woman has been in remission and free of the virus for 14 months, without the need for potent HIV treatments known as antiretroviral therapy.
“This would be a treatment for the modest number of people who have a condition that requires a transplant, have HIV and are able to identify a match. And I think the pool of potential matches would be expanded by using umbilical cord as the source, which is what we demonstrated in our patient for the first time,” Dr Marshall Glesby said.
The cured patient was diagnosed with HIV in 2013 and leukemia in 2017 and Dr Glesby has been on her direct patient care throughout the process.
The two prior cases occurred in males who had received adult stem cells, which are more frequently used in bone marrow transplants.
Sharon Lewin, President-Elect of the International AIDS Society, said bone marrow transplants are not a viable strategy to cure most people living with HIV.
“What this case tells us is that if you can make cells resistant to HIV, you can stop the virus coming back,” she said, expressing optimism for this treatment to become a pathway to a cure, however many years down the road.
The two men who had been cured of HIV were listed as the “Berlin patient” and the “London patient.” They both received bone marrow transplants from donors who carried a mutation that blocks H.I.V. infection.
The Berlin patient, Timothy Ray Brown, also had leukemia and received a bone marrow transplant that scientists believed cured his HIV for 12 years until his death in 2020 from leukemia, according to the NIAID.
In 2019, scientists announced that the London patient, Adam Castillejo, who had Hodgkin’s lymphoma, received a bone marrow transplant that cured his HIV.
This comes one week after Oxford researchers announced the discovery of a new “highly virulent” strain of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in the Netherlands.