Doctors say a HIV-positive Berlin man who underwent stem-cell treatment in 2007 to battle Leukemia seems to have been cured of his HIV infection. Doctors say the stem cells used in his treatment happened to be resistant to HIV—a resistancy that affects less than one percent of white Europeans, according to the study. Here's a breakdown of how the treatment worked:
One of the challenges for any approach to curing HIV infection is long-lived immune system cells, which need to be cleared before a patient can be cured. In the case of the Berlin patient CCR5-bearing macrophages could not be detected after 38 months, suggesting that chemotherapy had destroyed these longer-lived cells, and that they had also been replaced by donor cells.
This seems like great news but is the treatment replicable? And is it viable? If one percent of Caucasians has these resistant stem cells, infinitely fewer donors do, and growing them is slow and expensive. Are we just going to round them all up and demand donations? If so, I predict China and Nebraska will soon become fields of bone marrow farms as far as the eye can see.