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Haplo-cord treatment may offer lasting cure for over 37.7 mn HIV patients: GlobalData

However, more research will be required to assess if this is a cure as opposed to longer-term remission

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Following the recent news that the woman referred to as ‘the New York patient’, who received haplo-cord treatment four years ago, is now off HIV medication and remains asymptomatic and healthy, Sultan Ahmed, Infectious Disease Analyst at GlobalData offers his view:

“The haplo-cord transplant, conventionally used for cancer treatment, may potentially provide the first cure for HIV. HIV has been shown, in many cases, to resist conventional antiretroviral treatment as the virus can lie dormant within long-lived immune cells. Therefore, this transplant may facilitate a new method that could better manage or even cure the disease in the long-term. However, more research will be required to assess if this is a cure as opposed to longer-term remission.

“HIV has historically been difficult to manage, with antiretrovirals being the conventional therapy. Despite this, antiretrovirals only work on replicating cells which means HIV can manage to stay under the radar for several years within its host before causing harmful effects. The transplant method prevents this by engrafting HIV-resistant stem cells that are able to stop new viral copies from emerging from remaining infected cells following chemotherapy. This will decrease the need for long-term antiretrovirals use and may potentially diminish the size of the market if HIV-patients have increased access to the transplant.

“This method provides new advantages to typical stem-cell transplant methods. Utilising the haplo-cord transplant method makes it easier to identify the HIV-resistant abnormality required for transplant as cord blood banks are better for high-throughput screening compared to bone marrow registries. Along with this, the combination of umbilical cord blood and adult stem cells means that you only need a partial human leukocyte antigen (HLA) match, opening the door for many HIV patients to access it. Additionally, this could potentially open new treatment avenues for other auto-immune disorders, and therefore brings excitement to the pharmaceutical industry as a whole.

“The UNAIDS platform shows that there are over 37.7 million people living with HIV, with 1.7 million being children. Of those, there are 28.2 million currently accessing antiretroviral therapy. This transplant could therefore be of huge significance, as it could be the first transplant method since the 1980s to provide a permanent cure for the disease.”

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