'Berlin Man,' doctor convinced HIV cure is real

September 12, 2012 by Jim Salter

(AP)—More than five years after a radical treatment, a San Francisco man and his German doctor are convinced that he remains the first person cured of infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Timothy Ray Brown, who is known as "The Berlin Patient" because of where he was treated, and Dr. Gero Hutter made their first joint appearance in the U.S. on Wednesday when Hutter spoke at a symposium on at Washington University in St. Louis. Scientists are studying whether gene therapy can be used to rid the body of HIV.

Brown, 46, was diagnosed with HIV in 1995. In 2006, he also developed leukemia while living in Germany. Hutter performed a blood using a donor with a rare that provides natural resistance to HIV. Hutter said that resistance transferred to Brown.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Brown said he feels great, has not needed since the 2007 surgery, and is now active in a foundation named for him that seeks a cure for HIV.

Hutter said enough time has passed to say without hesitation that Brown is cured, citing the same five-year standard after which some are said to be cured.

Brown, who now lives in San Francisco, grew up in Seattle and moved to Germany in 1993. After the HIV diagnosis he started on medication to prevent him from developing full-blown AIDS.

He was attending a wedding in New York in 2006 when he became unusually tired. An avid cyclist, within weeks he could barely ride the bike and eventually was diagnosed with leukemia.

Brown underwent chemotherapy but needed a and turned to Hutter, a blood specialist at Heidelberg University.

Hutter suggested they seek a donor with a certain cell feature that gives them to . Only about 1 percent of the northern has this feature. Hutter theorized that a transplant from such a donor could make the recipient resistant to HIV.

Hutter said no one apparently had tried this, and his idea received mixed reaction from other doctors. "Some were very excited, but many were skeptical," he said.

But within weeks, Hutter said, tests showed promise that Brown was cured. His case was described in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2009.

"I don't know if I really believed it was cured" until the journal publication, Brown said.

Earlier this year, doctors in California found traces of HIV in Brown's tissue, leading to speculation that the disease had returned. But Hutter said the traces are remnants of the disease that can't replicate or cause a recurrence of the disease.

The symposium in St. Louis was hosted by the university's Biologic Therapeutics Center, which seeks to advance the use of gene therapy. Speakers said gene therapy has helped treat cancer, hemophilia and other diseases.

So far, Brown is the only person believed to have been cured of HIV. Hutter began procedures in 2008 with 12 other people who had both HIV and cancer, but some were too sick to undergo treatment, and others couldn't find matching donors or ran into other roadblocks.

Explore further: Man believed cured of AIDS says he's still cured

shares

Related Stories

Man believed cured of AIDS says he's still cured

July 24, 2012
(AP) — The first person believed to have been cured of AIDS says reports he still has the HIV virus are false.

Being cured of HIV is 'wonderful,' US man says

July 25, 2012
The only person believed to have been cured of HIV infection through a bone marrow transplant said Tuesday he feels wonderful and is launching a new foundation to boost research toward a cure.

HIV may have returned in 'cured' patient: scientists

June 13, 2012
An American man whose HIV seemed to disappear after a blood marrow transplant for leukemia may be showing new hints of the disease, sparking debate over whether a cure was really achieved.

Bone marrow transplant eliminates signs of HIV infection

July 26, 2012
Two men with longstanding HIV infections no longer have detectable HIV in their blood cells following bone marrow transplants. The virus was easily detected in blood lymphocytes of both men prior to their transplants but ...

Recommended for you

New injectable antiretroviral treatment proved to be as effective as standard oral therapy

August 3, 2017
Intramuscularly administered antiretroviral therapy (ART) may be as effective for HIV treatment as current oral therapies. This is the main conclusion of a Phase II clinical trial carried out by 50 research centers around ...

Research finds home-based kit would increase HIV testing

July 31, 2017
Research led by William Robinson, PhD, Associate Research Professor of Behavioral & Community Health Sciences at LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health, has found that 86% of heterosexuals who are at high risk for ...

Scientists divulge latest in HIV prevention

July 25, 2017
A far cry from the 1990s "ABC" campaign promoting abstinence and monogamy as HIV protection, scientists reported on new approaches Tuesday allowing people to have all the safe sex they want.

Girl's HIV infection seems under control without AIDS drugs

July 24, 2017
A South African girl born with the AIDS virus has kept her infection suppressed for more than eight years after stopping anti-HIV medicines—more evidence that early treatment can occasionally cause a long remission that, ...

Meds by monthly injection might revolutionize HIV care (Update)

July 24, 2017
Getting a shot of medication to control HIV every month or two instead of having to take pills every day could transform the way the virus is kept at bay.

Candidate AIDS vaccine passes early test

July 24, 2017
The three-decade-old quest for an AIDS vaccine received a shot of hope Monday when developers announced that a prototype triggered the immune system in an early phase of human trials.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.