In disappointing news, HIV has returned in two men who it was hoped had been cleared of HIV through bone marrow transplants.
In July, researchers from the Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston revealed that the transplants to treat cancer in the two HIV-positive men had apparently also resulted in the eradication of the virus in their body.
While bone marrow transplants are dangerous and difficult procedures it was hoped that the apparent breakthrough might lead to a possible cure or treatment for HIV.
On Thursday last week, however, Dr. Timothy Henrich announced at an AIDS conference in Florida that the virus had returned in the men, who had since gone back onto ARV treatment.
One of the patients went for eight months until the virus re-emerged.
According to The Boston Globe, Henrich explained that it appears that the cells that carry the virus are able to “hide” in harder to reach places in the body than previously suspected.
“This suggests that we need to look deeper, or we need to be looking in other tissues… the liver, gut, and brain. These are all potential sources, but it’s very difficult to obtain tissue from these places so we don’t do that routinely,” said Henrich.
Another man, Timothy Ray Brown, who in 2009 received extreme chemotherapy and radiation treatment as well as a bone marrow transplant from a donor who had a rare gene resistant to HIV, apparently remains free from the virus.
The two more recent patients received their bone marrow from ordinary donors.