Two patients have been off of their HIV medication for several months after bone-marrow transplants seemed to clear the virus out of their systems, reports BBC News.
The news brings hope that there may finally be a cure for the virus, but scientists are not betting their cards just yet. Even though one of the patients has spent nearly four months without taking drugs and no sign of HIV in their systems, scientists say they are going to need much more following and research.
Dr Timothy Henrich said the results were exciting, but that “it’s much too early at this point to use the C-word [cure]. We have not demonstrated cure, we’re going to need longer follow-up.”
One of the patients has gone 15 weeks without treatment and the other seven without the virus reappearing in either.
“What we can say is if the virus does stay away for a year or even two years after we stopped the treatment, that the chances of the virus rebounding are going to be extremely low,” he said.
It is believed that the transplanted bone marrow was protected from infections through the course of anti-retrovirals. Scientists caution, however, that the virus may still be hiding inside brain tissue or the gastrointestinal track.
“If [the] virus does return, it would suggest that these other sites are an important reservoir of infectious virus and new approaches to measuring the reservoir at relevant sites will be needed to guide the development of HIV curative strategies,” he said.
There have been many advancements over the years towards the fight against AIDS, but a breakthrough first occurred in 2007 when Timothy Brown, known as the Berlin Patient, became the first person in human history to be cured of AIDS. He also had a bone marrow transplant, but from a rare donor who was resistant to HIV.