Researchers investigate transplants as definitive treatment for AIDS

Transplants, or the very early treatment of the disease, are some of the clues explored by specialists so that AIDS patients are not forced to take medication until the end of their lives. The results are still preliminary, with only a small number of cases, but they already give hope.

A few weeks ago, a group of American scientists announced that a woman with leukemia in New York managed to be cured of aids, after receiving stem cells extracted from an umbilical cord. Before her, three patients, in Berlin, London and Dusseldorf, in Germanyhad already been cured, after undergoing a bone marrow transplant, initially intended to fight the cancer they suffered.

This transplant from a matched donor whose cells were resistant to the HIV, allowed to replace the infected patient’s blood cells and rebuild his immune system. These cases involve, however, quite complicated operations, impossible to be reproduced in a generalized way.

Since the acquired immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was isolated by Drs Françoise Barré-Fitoussi and Luc Montagnier in 1983, science has made great strides. The first tritherapies (combinations of three drugs) made it possible, from 1996 onwards, to save countless patients and, for the sick, this meant leading a reasonably safe life.

Tritherapies are not harmless and those who take these drugs have a higher risk of developing other diseases (such as cardiovascular diseases and cancer) and sometimes compatibility issues arise. Furthermore, in many countries, access to these tritherapies is not guaranteed, recalled Michaela Müller-Trutwin, a professor at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, at a recent symposium.

“Currently, patients tell us they want a treatment that they can stop,” Françoise Barré-Sinoussi told the agency. AFP. “You have to try,” she added.

Some patients who received antiretroviral treatment very early managed to “control the infection naturally” after interrupting their tritherapy, reported strengthen the immune system.

“Based on these cases, we can better understand the mechanisms that should be taken into account in a therapeutic strategy. More and more, we have more data that show, for example, the important role played by NK cells (natural killers) contained in the lymphocytes of the immune system, capable of killing infected cells”, he said. Barré-Sinoussi.

Other new possibilities are gene therapy, or immunotherapy, to modify the cells, or the receptors of the virus, he added, stressing, however, that care must be taken about the possibility of totally eliminating the infection from patients. “That would mean that there are no infected cells left in the body, which seems unlikely,” noted Jennifer Gordwood, a postdoctoral student at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

the problem of HIV is that it is latently installed in cells “and can be reactivated, for example, when a treatment is interrupted”, he explained. “In the beginning, we thought it would be necessary to eradicate the virus by 100% and, now, we are beginning to understand that it is enough to introduce barriers” to control it, strengthening the cells, or stimulating the immune system, highlighted Michaela Müller-Trutwin, an objective that it may take decades to achieve.

About Jenni Smith

She's our PC girl, so anything is up to her. She is also responsible for the videos of Play Crazy Game, as well as giving a leg in the news.

Check Also

Studies point to more than 50 post-covid symptoms; check out the 30 most common

Studies that have been carried out since the beginning of the pandemic already point out …