(SCIENCE NEWS) – Some rare people may essentially be able to cure themselves of HIV infections.
Twice, people infected with HIV have had levels of the virus in their bodies drop to undetectable levels after bone marrow transplants, never to return (SN: 3/5/19). Now it appears that a person may have cleared functional HIV with no outside help. If true, it would be the first known instance of a spontaneous cure.
Analysis of more than 1.5 billion cells taken from a patient known as EC2 showed no functional HIV copies in any of them, researchers report August 26 in Nature. The person still had some nonfunctional copies of the virus. While no one can say for sure that intact virus isn't hiding in a cell somewhere in this person's body, the finding suggests that some people's immune systems can get the upper hand, essentially eliminating the pernicious and persistent virus.
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A second person, EC1, had just one functional copy of HIV in more than 1 billion blood cells analyzed. And that copy of HIV was stuck in what is essentially a genetic supermax prison. That genetic lockup may be key to being able to naturally control the virus.