Report: HIV patient cured by stem cell transplant
A chronically ill HIV patient has reportedly been cured of the disease by an emergency stem cell transplant.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, Timothy Ray Brown had leukemia and was undergoing chemotherapy when he received the transplanted cells.
The cells were taken from a donor who carries a rare inherited gene mutation that provides virtual immunity to an HIV infection.
Indeed, the transplant apparently eliminated both diseases - leading some scientists to speculate that a similiar procedure could one day be replicated for other HIV/AIDS patients.
However, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told FoxNews that routinely curing HIV or AIDS with a stem cell transplant was an "absurdly impractical" concept.
"It's hard enough to get a compatible match for a transplant like this. But you also have to find compatible donor that has this genetic defect, and this defect is only found in one percent of the Caucasian population and zero percent of the black population," said Fauci.
"[Obviously] this is not prime time to me at all. This is a very unusual situation that has little practical application for a simple reason. This donor not only had to be a good compatible match, but the donor had to have a genetic defect of cells that do not express the receptor that the HIV virus needs to enter the cell."
Nevertheless, Dr. Thomas Quinn, director of Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health, believes the above-mentioned procedure may offer hope for a potential cure sometime in the distant future.
"[Brown] has been without therapy for three years and appears to be free of the virus. [So yes], it gives hope to the millions of people infected with HIV that cure is a feasible option in the future.
"[Still], it is a near fatal procedure [and] very expensive. [Plus], you have to be transplanted with a donor who is shown to be already resistant to HIV. [Clearly], you're asking for a tall order to replicate this in the future."