A first: Stem cell therapy cures HIV patient in Germany



Stem cell therapy might provide a remedy for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) after it was used on an HIV patient in Germany, the first person known to have been cured of the disease, a Department of Health (DOH) official said Tuesday.

Dr. Gerald Belimac, program manager of the DOH National AIDS/Sexually Transmitted Infection Prevention and Control Program, said American Timothy R. Brown, the so-called Berlin Patient who had been infected with the human immunodeficiency virus, was cured after getting stem cells in 2007 from a donor who was genetically resistant to the virus that caused AIDS.

However, he said that this procedure was very complex and was still under study.

“It takes the right person, the right recipient, the right donor, for a stem cell transplantation particularly on HIV to be successful,” Belimac said.

“If it comes from other donors, there is really a high chance that the recipient would reject it,” she added.

Brown was infected with HIV in 1995 and was later diagnosed with leukemia, or cancer of the blood.

“He underwent a transplant of stem cells for the leukemia and it turned out that those stem cells had genes that were resistant to HIV,” Belimac said.

Medical research has shown that almost 5 percent of Caucasians are genetically resistant to HIV, he said, but there are still no studies showing Filipinos having similar genes.

Belimac explained that the donor was HIV-resistant because his CD4 cells, a type of white blood cells that are attacked first by the HIV virus, did not have the “CCR-5 coreceptor” needed for the virus to infect the cells.


Flushing out immune system


“So the virus could not get into the CD4 cell due to the absence of that coreceptor … (Brown’s) entire immune system was flushed out to remove the leukemic or cancer cells and was replaced by new stem cells (from the HIV-resistant donor),” Belimac said.

“These stem cells that happened to be HIV resistant became his new immune system. So, for the past three and a half years, it is said that he has been cured of HIV,” he added.

Belimac said flushing out one’s immune system could be dangerous because of complications.

“It’s treated with various chemicals. It’s exposed to radiation to kill actually the current immune system so that it could be replaced. So, there is a danger that the patient will actually develop fulminant infection because you have to kill the immune system to replace it with a new one,” he added.

Belimac said stem cell therapy was one of the treatments medical researchers were studying to find a cure for AIDS/HIV.

3 future directions


“The future of HIV is clear. At least now, there are three future directions. Number one is the continuing pursuit of better ARV (antiretroviral) drugs. Second is in the field of vaccines. There are many promising researches in vaccine. And the third is really the stem cell,” he said.

Belimac said the probability was small that a Filipino with HIV could successfully get a stem cell transplant from an HIV-resistant Caucasian.

“If you want to get a transplant, you need a donor who shares similar characteristics (with you). Meaning, if you want a donor, you’d want a donor who is a close relative and, if not a relative, at least a Filipino,” he said.

“If not Filipino, at least Asian. (But) the (HIV-resistant) genes are actually among Caucasians. So we don’t say (that there’s) a high probability that an Asian can actually receive, or accept, or tolerate a Caucasian donor.”

Originally posted: 9:00 pm | Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

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  • http://profile.yahoo.com/AND7MQ5FERICDOIAUW56RYT45A tower_of_power

    Ano kaya ang gusto palabasin ng DOH? Pagkatapos magissue ng warning … they are promoting stem cell…

    • pangitbudhiko

      itong mga tao sa gobyerno, hindi alam ang kanilang mga gingawa, “”””AS IN HILONG TALILONG”””””

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=701351395 Harley Tan

      as long as the stem cell didnt come from embryos ok na ok yan , probably came from the bone marrow stemcells

      • charlie_oscar

         yes bone marrow because that is what was replaced by donor…complete removal of immune system and re-install.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/MJFXCRSCXRWPLL42QQKSINC3AQ Mamerto

        Where does it say in the Good Book that “this is okey” or “that is prohibited”…?

        Where does it say, in the same Book, that 
        “the marrow is okey” and “the embryo is probibited”…?

        Where does it say that “one is okey” while the “other is prohibited”
         between the marrow and the embryo…?

        Is the use of the “Blood and its components” accepted or prohibited where the production of stem cells are concerned (also by the Good Book)…?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=701351395 Harley Tan

        In getting a embryo stem cells you have to take it from EMBRYOS which is unethical and pure evil because you will have to sacrifice the growing embryo meant to become a well develop human being and importantly without the consent of this developing human being. In stem cells you get it from the bone marrow not really taking it as a whole it only takes an aspirated amount unlike in kidney transplant where you have to take the whole organ. It is given out of charity and pure consent to another human being which is purely a good act. You don’t need the bible to figure this is right or wrong just common sense.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=701351395 Harley Tan

        An embryonic stemcell source can only be appropriate if it was taken from an already dead embryo that died out of natural cause not ABORTED.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=701351395 Harley Tan

    How did they find a person with a resistant gene for HIV virus? 

  • charlie_oscar

    The discovery of HIV resistance was almost by accident and it involved a number of sex workers in Africa (I think Kenya) and they had been in the sex industry for 20+ years and had unprotected sex hundreds and hundreds of times and had been exposed to HIV hundreds x hundreds of times and never got HIV.  The fact they were alive after so many years and 95% of their co-workers had died years before –  made their case obvious to researchers.

    • Phenoy

      A lot of Russians and Poles are resistant to HIV (read that somewhere). The least is theJapanese, since they have been relatively isolated as a group for a long time.

    • lexter99

      Before you all go off on speculative tangents (most of which wrong!) The answer is simple. The mutation responsible (CCR5-delta32) first occurred in the human population about 700years ago, in a tiny, self-quarantined village in northern England.
      It was in response to an outbreak of ‘black death’ (assumed to be bubonic plague). This was isolated to that location – to my knowledge the mutation hasn’t occurred again. By chance this mutation also confers immunity to HIV-1. However, it needs to be inherited from both parents to have significant protective benefit. And all it the line of inheritance are Caucasian (specifically northern English)
      Therefore the number of potential donors is tiny! And so the need not only for stem cell technology but also genetic engineering. HIV-1 is the type almost exclusively encountered in Europe and North America.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=701351395 Harley Tan

        interesting thank you for sharing this information

      • charlie_oscar

         please stop smoking shabu…make you bola cRAZY!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/MJFXCRSCXRWPLL42QQKSINC3AQ Mamerto

    Don’t tell me/us, later…,
    that some religion &/or cult will tell us…

    “This is against the Will of God”.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=701351395 Harley Tan

      this is already been dealt with as long as stem cell came from an ethical source which is given with consent by a living person out of respect or charity to another being, then it is good. If it is taken without consent then it is wrong.

  • blainz

    Wow, the first real cure for AIDS. Too bad it’s limited to Caucasians for now, but I’m sure science will find a way around that stumbling block.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=701351395 Harley Tan

      it would be interesting to know the process of finding a person who is genetically resistant to HIV.

      • blainz

        My guess is genetic screening, since they already know the specific mutation (CCR5-Δ32) that confers resistance.

        It seems CCR5-Δ32 is a double-edged sword, it makes a person resistant to HIV, but increases susceptibility to other diseases.

  • disqusted0fu

    just wondering… can this also cure noynoying? its slowly becoming an epidemic. people need a cure, quick!

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ETIVE4H6I7ZVBAL72HE3VLGCA4 nicosan

      by noynoying you mean better Philippines than it was for about decades now?

      • disqusted0fu

        this is a far fetched perception you have. im curious where you are basing your claim that the Philippines is better now than it was before. dont get me wrong, I’d love to see our country to be in it’s best form, but basing on reality, thats hard to believe right now. so the answer to your question is, no, i mean the real meaning of noynoying.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=701351395 Harley Tan

      lets keep the comments health related we dont care about politics

    • muddygoose

      Paki-explain na rin kung bakit Hacienda Luisita ang dahilan ng lahat ng problema ng mundo.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/MDAWMT3LIDHOCW7ZTSYXZEUQQ4 ghe

    This is good news!

  • Jianne Garcia

    This is good news! With so many medical innovations happening at the moment, I won’t be surprised if a vaccine/total cure for HIV AIDS would be developed and circulated someday.

    But the problem is, would our government be able to fund this kind of project? Developing a cure for any kind of disease takes a lot of research and funding researches uses up a lot of money. 

    We can only hope for the best- but this is a good start.

    • les21reago

       WHY again lean or shoot the ball to the government?..Even with this pandemic, every NORMAL citizen is duty bound of at least the AWARENESS, PROTECTION of the occurrence of the HIV…Simply put in PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE…Ignoring mean a price to the victim.

    • cleoan

      Pharmaceutical companies will jump into the opportunity of acquiring and circulating that medicine if it does work. Don’t dump everything on the government. You’re expecting AIDS meds to be free? It will encourage people to be careless sexually.

      • Stefan Punongbayan

        “You’re expecting AIDS meds to be free? It will encourage people to be careless sexually.”
        Ikaw naman. Para mo na ring sinabing kapag nagkaroon ng divorce sa Pilipinas eh maghihiwalay na ang lahat ng mag-asawa at magririgodon.

      • muddygoose

        So you think AIDS is good because it prevents people from being “careless sexually”? 

        Ang cholera kaya? Good because it prevents people from drinking water carelessly?

        The logic of the zealots. Bakit kaya di pa rin umuunlad kalinangan ng tao eh 21st century na?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_433AYTAQRGRQD6CNXQKWD5ZZHY Sword

    I expect that the Roman Catholic church will complain about this cure.

    • muddygoose

      Yeah, especially because it’s hard to get AIDS from young boys…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OHOD5EA75DBBUH53UKLRXRK764 Mang Teban

    It is always a welcome development when medical science is able to find a cure for diseases or illnesses that make victims suffer or die in the long run. This is only the first success which is still subject for further observations and analyses.  

    The greatest healer is God who holds our life in His hands. When some people suffer from a disease or illness, they seek remedies from human healers, doctors and non-doctors alike. Prayer is the most effective remedy for God never fails to listen to each petition. Whatever happens to a person with a disease or illness after seeking God shall receive the grace of healing – be it complete recovery or painless death. God created us to work together as one family and help each other find our way towards salvation. Let us hope that stem cell therapy comes from the grace and will of God.

    • Stefan Punongbayan

      Oh, here we go.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZWTTKJTI57YO7TZBJC66GA2OLU dennis

    If there will be light from the dark that stem cell therapy will cure HIV patient then it is possible for human to correct it´s immune system making it resistance to all deseases caused by virus!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZWTTKJTI57YO7TZBJC66GA2OLU dennis

    Why don´t we get gene from the mixture of both Caucasian/Asian or Caucasian/Filipino children to know how HIV will infect those mixture? Or can it be possible to have a kind of immunosupresive drugs that will enable an acceptance or both gene from Caucasian to Filipino or Asian race?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZWTTKJTI57YO7TZBJC66GA2OLU dennis

    If this stem cell therapy will become the new methods in Medicine,specially in treating the Patient then the only worry the world will encounter is that to answer the question “What if there is a new desease occur like STEM CELL RELATED DESEASE make an outbreak?” Does the world prepare about this? As of now,go ahead!…Beat the no#1 problem of human body! Just my 2 cents of opinion.

    • wgd82

      we’ll burn the bridge when we get there…

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/EVOUFDO7IX2YYE7TQ3VOOALQ54 Nancy Desmond

    It seems like the AIDS virus is racist! Caucasian supremacy… wiping out the natives just like the conquistadors did with their “flu”

  • charlie_oscar

    HIV is under-reported in the Philippines…Many of the so-called mechanisms at the DOH are flawed and many health clinics do not report new cases. Even tho – Philippines has the highest RATE of new cases per captia in all of Asia. Thailand had this problem in the 1990’s but now have turned the virus to more control with education and CONDOM use! You cannot deny the condom and have multiple partners and expect everything will work out according to God’s plan!

  • muddygoose

    Hinde naman sinabing Caucasians lang ang may immunity. Sila lang ang napag-aralan na apparently 5% ang may immunity. Although sa kuwentong ito, nagkataon lang na yung nag-donate ng stem cells ay immune sa AIDS.

    Pero mukhang magulo yung news kasi kakagulat naman kung may gumawa nga ng immunity study na yan pero hindi man lang pinaghalo-halo ang test subjects. Pede cguro kung somewhere sa Europe ginanap ang study at hinde sa America. Pero malabo.In any case, possible din namang may immunity ang ilang porsyento ng Pilipino/Asyano. Hinde lang natin alam. 

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    • jolly_baby

       Whats your name to prove that you are true.

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