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HIV baby allegedly cured?

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frob    44904
No, it is Reuters, not a yahoo exclusive.

It is interesting. They only have a single data point indicating HIV, which *could* be a false positive. Otherwise, it is certainly an interesting case that is hopefully good news to other innocent newborns who don't deserve their lives to be destroyed.

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Khatharr    8812
Honestly this sound less like a cure than it does like an odd series of events that led to a kid without HIV. Strange things sometimes happen. Possibly the virus in this case just failed due to circumstance.

Things like this can certainly lead to cures, though. I really hope they make progress based on this.

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Well, newborns aren't fully developed, might as well be that kid didn't have CD4 expressing cells yet, or only few of them. So, have those few cells infected and die, and antiviral treatment in place to catch 'em before new cells are generated... why not. Can you tell? I can't.

Another possibility is that the assessment was not correct. The article doesn't tell what they did to verify that the baby doesn't have HIV. Did they do a PCR on antigen? Hopefully, because if they do the "normal" antibody tests, the big surprise could simply be that babies do not express antibodies to antigens they encounter early in their lives. If they did, no baby would ever be born, because both mother and baby would die from a graft-vs-host reaction (a baby is in some way an alien body!). So maybe the baby does have HIV, just no antibodies. More info would be needed to rule that out.

In any case, I don't deem this story entirely impossible, but it's probably not groundbreaking news. Much like that story a few years back when someone had a radical leukaemia treatment which basically killed every white blood cell in his body. Following that they gave him stem cells or donor blood or whatever, and later they saw HIV was gone. Surprise.

Of course, if you have a parasite (say a leech) stuck to your finger, and you cut off the entire arm, the parasite is gone.

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Erik Rufelt    5901

Here's a guy that cured himself as an adult: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Stimpson

I don't know how anti-HIV drugs work, but seems likely that they weren't the only thing that cured the baby. Perhaps it was just born immune, those genes must come from somewhere, and if they developed before they could develop again in new babies through mutations or whatever makes new genes.

The guy that got cured from his leukemia treatment was because of a "standard" bone marrow transplant, since the new bone marrow pushed out his old immune system and it was replaced with the donors immune system.

Edited by Erik Rufelt

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Further tests [...] also came back negetive


Hopefully their lab testing is better than their spelling.

An undetectable viral load and complete eradication of the virus from the body are two very different things.

But seriously: This is just it. You cannot really assert that someone is clear of virus while under antiviral therapy. They may have a few thousand infected cells in a lymph node with moderately low activity (thanks to e.g. reverse transcriptase inhibition), but they're still there. Now, maybe there's a few hundred or so virusses total floating around in blood, but the chance of actually catching one in a 1-2 ml blood sample isn't so terribly high (and then, a single virus (or say half a dozen) in a blood sample may quite possibly be under detection threshold, even for PCR).

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If Wikipedia isn't lying, no PCR against reverse transcriptase was made. Which, honestly, I find very surprising. Having the One Big Sensation at hand, one would certainly use the most reliable test available rather than a simple antibody test to prove that it's genuine. Unless of course, if one already knows it's a hoax.

The negative antibody test, is relatively meaningless, as it really only says there are no antibodies. That could be for a similar reason as stated for the case of the the baby (immune tolerance) or for many other reasons. Including, of course, recovering from HIV infection -- but that this is the least probable cause.

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Adaline    710

If this is true, proven, we know who will be congratulated by the next medicine's Nobel Prize 

Edited by Tournicoti

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Hodgman    51223

The guy that got cured from his leukemia treatment was because of a "standard" bone marrow transplant, since the new bone marrow pushed out his old immune system and it was replaced with the donors immune system.

It wasn't exactly a "standard" transplant. It was unrelated, as it was targeted at his leukaemia, but they did deliberately choose a donor that had a genetic immunity to HIV, which isn't standard.

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Hodgman    51223
Bone marrow transplants have a list of serious risks and complications, including an overall mortality rate of 10%, so it's only done when it absolutely has to be done.
[edit] Timothy Ray Brown is the guy cured by a bone marrow transplant.
Andrew Stimpson is the magically self cured guy. Edited by Hodgman

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Bone marrow transplants have a list of serious risks and complications, including an overall mortality rate of 10%


This. Plus the fact that "HIV immunity" is not necessarily a good thing. It is obviously "good" in the light of dying to a HIV infection, but in every other case, it's a disadvantage.

This "immunity" comes from a DNA defect which results in a broken receptor. This receptor is the main entrance mechanism for the HI virus, so if you don't have it or if it's broken, you're (mostly) immune.

So far so good, but the receptor plays an important physiological role in the communication between antigen-presenting cells, T helper cells, and killer cells. It is one of two receptors that together make the whole immune system work. Which means if it's broken then that's not precisely an advantage for survival, as your immune system is much less responsive overall.

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