A miracle cure against HIV

 

Context:

  • This week at a Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, Colorado, United States, researchers described the case of a 60-year-old African American woman who was diagnosed with an HIV infection in 2013 and has reportedly been cured of the infection.

 

About:

  • A combination of embryonic stem cells, from a donor with a rare mutation that naturally blocks the HIV virus from infecting cells, along with adult stem cells seems to have been the ‘miracle’ cure.
  • The adult stem cells boosted the patient’s immunity and possibly helped the cord blood cells fully integrate with the lady’s immune system.
  • While this approach is certainly a welcome addition, stem cell therapy is a cumbersome exercise and barely accessible to most HIV patients in the world.
  • A vaccine for HIV or a drug that eliminates the virus is still elusive and would be the long sought ‘cure’ for HIV/AIDS.

 

What are Stem Cells?

  • Stem cells are the body’s raw materials — cells from which all other cells with specialized functions are generated.
  • Under the right conditions in the body or a laboratory, stem cells divide to form more cells called daughter cells.
  • No other cell in the body has the natural ability to generate new cell types.

 

Way Forward:

 

  • Stem cell therapy is a cumbersome exercise and barely accessible to most HIV patients in the world.
  • Moreover, this requires stem cells from that rare group of individuals with the beneficial mutation.
  • Anti-retroviral therapy, through the years, has now ensured that HIV/AIDS isn’t always a death sentence and many with access to proper treatment have lifespans comparable to those without HIV.
  • A vaccine for HIV or a drug that eliminates the virus is still elusive and would be the long sought ‘cure’ for HIV/AIDS.

Source: THE HINDU.

 

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