"Stem Cell Transplant Cures HIV in 'Berlin Patient'" screamed the Huffington Post headline on a story of a man who received a stem cell transplant to treat his leukemia in 2007 and found his HIV infection had most likely been cured. Although the remarkable achievement — as detailed in a paper in Blood — certainly has researchers and bloggers buzzing, some aren't ready to bring out the party hats just yet. The researchers have confirmed in their paper that the patient has maintained his HIV resistance for three years, writing that a "cure of HIV has been achieved in this patient." However, David Cohen at New Scientist's Short Sharp Science writes that everyone should note the "crucial words 'in this patient'" — meaning that this patient was lucky because he found an exact bone marrow match, so his body didn't reject it, and although some have heralded this discovery has a potential cure for AIDS, "in reality this is unlikely to be the case." While it's great news for the so-called "Berlin patient," it's a very long way from being a treatment that's scalable to the millions of AIDS patients in the world, Cohen says.
Hold Your Horses
Dec 16, 2010