A woman reportedly has been cured of HIV after a new treatment was tried, using genetically mutated stem cells from umbilical cord blood — previously used to cure cancers. The middle-aged woman suffered from HIV for nine years and was diagnosed with leukemia in 2017.
The cord blood cell transplant took place with the intent to treat her cancer, but it was later discovered that the cells were also HIV-Resistant.
"This case is special for several reasons: First, our participant was a U.S. woman living with HIV of mixed race, who needed a stem cell transplant for treatment of her leukemia," said Dr. Yvonne Bryson, leader of the study. "And she would find a more difficult time finding both a genetic match and one with the HIV-resistant mutation to both cure her cancer and potentially her HIV. This is a natural, but rare mutation."
Previously, there have only been two patients recorded that have been cured of the virus. Both cases involved men, who received dangerous bone marrow transplants to fight the viral cells. The new study, however, is the first case involving a woman and the first to see treatment from umbilical cord cells.
Bryson noted that this treatment could benefit “approximately at least 50 [people] per year.” Experts say, though, that “treatment is not ideal for large populations,” ABC News Reports. President-Elect of the International Aids Society, Sharon Lewin said that “the transplant method used in this case wouldn't be a viable cure” for most patients, but added that “a cure for HIV is possible.”