Tentative Aids cures reported at conference

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iol scitech july 25 Timothy Ray Brown AFP Timothy Ray Brown, known as the Berlin Patient and the only person to have been cured of Aids.

Washington - A slim ray of hope for the world's 34 million people living with HIV emerged last week at the International Aids conference.

Two studies presented in Washington and a third published in a journal involved the use of drugs or procedures that are already in use and are the subject of further research, according to The Washington Post on Friday.

The researchers avoided using the word “cure” during their presentations on Thursday.

One line of research involved the use of expensive stem cell transplants on two patients who were being treated for lymphoma, a blood cell cancer, according to Timothy Henrich and Daniel Kuritzkes of Harvard Medical School.

Those findings were bolstered by the experience of Timothy Brown, an American who received a stem cell transplant for leukemia in Berlin from a person who has a rare mutation that naturally prevents HIV infections from taking hold.

Brown made a public appearance earlier this week at the conference to announce he had been cured of HIV as a byproduct of the procedure, and to start a fund-raising effort for research. About one percent of the world's Caucasian population has this immunity.

A second line of research showed that a group of 14 patients in France treated within weeks of HIV exposure with antiretroviral therapy had little or no HIV in their systems six years afterwards, according to Charline Bacchus and Asier Saez Cirion of the Pasteur Institute in France.

The third development was described this week in Nature, which involved the “waking up” of sleeping, hidden HIV cells so the virus could be detected and killed, according to a team led by David Margolis of the University of North Carolina. - Sapa-dpa

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