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Newsweek How We Will Cure HIV

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    But after Brown’s miracle story spread, one team of scientists—including Nobel laureate David Baltimore and Hütter, the Berlin Patient’s doctor—formed a company, Calimmune, to investigate a new approach. Rather than working to completely rid patients’ bodies of HIV, they would try to replicate the experience of the elite controllers—and the Berlin Patient—who continue to have small amounts of the virus in their bodies but experience none of the health consequences, and don’t need any of the medications used by other patients trying to control their HIV infection. If they succeeded, they’d have the first true “functional cure” for HIV.


    Calimmune’s researchers have used stem cell technology to create T cells lacking the CCR5 gene receptor, thus making them resistant to HIV. These manually mutated cells are then reintroduced into the patient’s body via an outpatient transplant procedure that is more effective and safer than a standard bone marrow transplant. The latter, says Dr. Scott Hammer, a scientist at the HIV/AIDS research program at New York’s Columbia University Medical Center, is too “toxic” of a procedure to be considered as a general treatment for HIV.

    The transplant “gives them a population of cells that are not infected,” says Baltimore. These uninfected cells could then either control the virus numbers in HIV-positive individuals or prevent infection in those without it. In other words, the transplant has the potential to be both cure and vaccine. Calimmune has announced it is about to move on to the second half of its Phase 1 human trial, and will soon implant four new patients with its genetically modified stem cells.
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