Eye on Health: Transplant HIV Cure - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Eye on Health: Transplant HIV Cure

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- A man is cured, doctors are stunned and patients have new hope.  It could be the cure for HIV.

Its worked on one man and now a San Francisco company is trying to do it here in the US.

Matt Sharp has been living with HIV since 1988.  For the first time he is cautiously optimistic a cure may be within reach.  Researchers say a patient in Germany is proof it's possible.

"Have this patient in Berlin who develops leukemia, gets bone marrow transplant from donor who has genetic anomaly, he lacks CCR5 genes. Turns out, CCR5 is the key doorway for HIV to get into the cell," says Dr. Jacob Lalezari, Quest Research.

Four years later, with no other treatment, that patient is HIV free. The goal now is to replicate what happened in Berlin, shutting that doorway through gene therapy.  It's happening at Quest Research in San Francisco.

Experts are removing CCR5 from patients' genes. Replicating them and then putting them back.

"Their own T cells stem cells removing ccr5 and then infusing them is doable," says Dr. Jacob Lalezari.

Dr. Jacob Lalezari says without CCR5 the virus can't infect new cells and it eventually goes away.
It's a development Sharp is counting on.

"I've exhausted all my possibilities for drug treatment," says Sharp.

Three months into the gene therapy trial, Sharps numbers are improving.

"From the experiment, so far my T-cells have doubled, my percentage numbers are up, everything is going in the right direction," says Sharp.

Only time will tell if the new treatment can actually cure patients.

So far, Quest Research is treating 10 patients with this gene therapy, with what experts call encouraging results.

We'll continue to follow this latest medical development as more results come in.

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