A cutting-edge treatment is likely to have cured a New York woman of HIV in a breakthrough that could save lives.
The woman received a stem cell transplant from a donor who is naturally resistant to the virus that causes HIV, using cutting-edge science that could lead to dozens of cases treated annually.
There are three other people that scientists believe to have been previously cured of HIV, but this is the first time that a woman has been successfully treated.
The woman was suffering from both HIV and leukaemia but her cancer has been in remission for 14-months and she is no longer showing symptoms of either.
So here’s how the new form of treatment works. The procedure uses blood from a donor’s umbilical cord because they contain stem cells that can spur what is basically an immune system renaissance.
The patient receives a transplant of that umbilical cord blood, then a day later they’re given a larger sample of stem cells from an adult donor, which are gradually replaced by the high-immunity blood from the first transfer.
Carl Dieffenbach is the director of the Division of AIDS at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a division that contributed funds to make this treatment possible.
He told NBC News that the current run of successfully treated patients “continues to provide hope.”