Boston researchers are reporting the return of the HIV virus in two patients who had become virus-free after undergoing bone marrow transplants, dashing hopes of a possible cure that had generated widespread excitement.
The rebound of the virus shows its persistence, and that it can hide in places in the body where it’s hard to find, said the lead scientist, Dr. Timothy Henrich of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. But he said the team has gleaned significant clues from the cases for designing next-generation treatments to battle the virus, which causes AIDS.
Henrich, who presented the preliminary findings Thursday at an international conference of AIDS researchers in Florida, said doctors pinpointed signs of the virus in both patients, who had beaten back the infections to undetectable levels earlier this year. The patients underwent bone marrow transplants several years ago for cancer, and had since stopped their powerful antiretroviral medications, which are typically given to those infected with the virus to keep it in check.
Other researchers who heard the presentation said the results were disappointing but the Boston team’s approach and data will dramatically advance strategies for battling HIV.
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