Mass. doctor helped treat girl ‘cured’ of HIV

Doctors say an HIV-positive baby who received immediate, aggressive treatment now shows no signs of the virus. (Getty Images)
Doctors say an HIV-positive baby who received immediate, aggressive treatment now shows no signs of the virus. (Getty Images)

In what’s being called a “functional cure,” doctors say a Mississippi girl born with HIV who received aggressive, early treatment now shows no signs of the virus that causes AIDS.

Dr. Katherine Luzuriaga, an immunologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, worked with researchers at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and doctors at the University of Mississippi Medical Center on girl’s treatment.

“This is the very first case in which we’ve conclusively been able to document that the baby was infected and then after a period of treatment has been able to go off treatment without viral rebound,” Luzuriaga told CNN.


When the baby girl was born in a rural hospital in July 2010, her mother had just tested positive for HIV infection. Because her mother had not received any prenatal HIV treatment, doctors knew the child was at high risk of infection. They transferred her to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, where she came under the care of Dr. Hannah Gay, a pediatric HIV specialist.

Because of her risk, Dr. Gay put the infant on a cocktail of three HIV-fighting drugs when she was just 30 hours old. Two blood tests done within the first 48 hours of the child’s life confirmed her infection and she was kept on the full treatment regimen, according to Dr. Deborah Persaud, a virologist with Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

“This is a proof of concept that HIV can be potentially curable in infants,” Persaud said. She is lead author of a report presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta.

More testing needs to be done to see if the treatment would have the same effect on other children, but the results could change the way high-risk babies are treated and possibly lead to a cure for children with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

“On the ultra-sensitive testing, we are occasionally getting signals so we cannot say with certainty that this child is absolutely clear of HIV, but we will continue to follow up with the baby,” Luzuriaga told CNN. “We have formed a hypothesis and that is already driving the design of new studies and clinical trials that will help us to answer the question of whether by coming in very early we will be able to treat children for a while and then remove them from therapy.”

The child’s story is different from the now famous case of Timothy Ray Brown, the so-called “Berlin patient,” whose HIV infection was completely eradicated through an elaborate treatment for leukemia in 2007 that involved the destruction of his immune system and a stem cell transplant from a donor with a rare genetic mutation that resists HIV infection.

“We believe this is our Timothy Brown case to spur research interest toward a cure for HIV infection in children,” Persaud said at a news conference.

With additional reporting by Reuters.

Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBos


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

NHL

Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.