Spanish medical professionals in Barcelona strongly believe that they have discovered the cure to HIV. According to them, the AIDS-causing virus can best be defeated by using blood transplants from the umbilical cords of individuals with a genetic resistance to HIV. The procedure has already been proved to be a success after a patient was reportedly cured in just three months.
An infected 37-year-old man from Barcelona started receiving a transplant of blood from an umbilical cord five years ago and he was cured. Although he died three years after, it was as a result cancer because he developed lymphoma. His death nevertheless, did not deter Spanish doctors who believe they have a solution to the AIDS-causing virus that has infected over 34 million people world-wide.
The Local, a Spanish news site, reported that the CCR5 Delta 35 mutation affects the protein in white blood cells and provides one percent of the human population with high resistance to HIV infection.
Sequel to cancer treatment, the HIV virus also disappeared for Timothy Brown, a HIV patient who developed leukaemia before receiving experimental treatment in Berlin. He was the initial subject for the technique, and he was given bone marrow from a donor who carried resistance to mutation from HIV.
Spanish doctors attempted to treat the lymphoma of the “Barcelona patient” with chemotherapy and an auto-transplant of the cells, but they were unable to find him a suitable bone marrow.
Rafael Duarte, the director of the Haematopoietic Transplant Programme at the Catalan Oncology Institute in Barcelona, explains to The Local.
“We suggested a transplant of blood from an umbilical cord but from someone who had the mutation because we knew from ‘the Berlin patient’ that as well as [ending] the cancer, we could also eradicate HIV.”
Before such a procedure is carried out, a patient’s blood cells are completely destroyed with chemotherapy before they’re replaced with new cells, incorporating the mutation, which means the HIV virus can no longer attache itself to an individual.
Then, for the Barcelona patient, the medical team used stem cells from another donor in order to accelerate the regeneration process. Eleven days later, the patient had experienced recovery, and three months after the transplant, it was discovered that he no longer had the HIV virus in his body.
While the Barcelona patient unfortunately, succumbed to death from cancer, the procedure led to the development of a new, ambitious project; one that’s backed by Spain’s National Transplant Organization. Javier Martínez, a virologist from the research foundation Irsicaixa, stressed that the process is primarily designed to assist HIV patients suffering from cancer, but “this therapy does allow us to speculate about a cure for HIV.”