AIDS/HIV | News | Timothy Ray Brown

Watch: Interview with Timothy Ray Brown, First Man 'Cured' of HIV

Timothyraybrown

In December, I posted about Timothy Ray Brown who has been dubbed "The Berlin Patient" by the medical community, and is said to have been purged of HIV infection via genetically-engineered stem cells.

Veteran SF CBS reporter Hank Plante, who covered the early years of the AIDS epidemic, talks to Brown in his first television interview.

Brown’s amazing progress continues to be monitored by doctors at San Francisco General Hospital and at the University of California at San Francisco medical center.

“I’m cured of HIV. I had HIV but I don’t anymore,” he said, using words that many in the scientific community are cautiously clinging to.

Scientists said Brown received stem cells from a donor who was immune to HIV. In fact, about one percent of Caucasians are immune to HIV. Some researchers think the immunity gene goes back to the Great Plague: people who survived the plague passed their immunity down and their heirs have it today.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Comments

  1. Cure, huh? I don't know. We've been disappointed so many times before. I hesitate to even utter the word.

    Like my boss says... "It's all hearsay until peer review."

    Posted by: The Milkman | May 17, 2011 5:36:17 PM


  2. This case has been around for a while now, and after several years of followup testing, it is safe to say that this person is now functionally cured, and this has been independently verified by numerous labs from around the world (all who were initially skeptical and requested blood/tissue samples.)
    It is not going to cure everyone (BoneMarrow tranplants kill about 30% of the people who undergo them). But this has re-envigorated this particular field of study in relation to HIV and there have been some great subsequent prelimary results using the same/similar idea behind the Berlin patient (but altering someone's own precursor marrow cells rather than find a suitable BM donor match who ALSO has two copies of the rare mutation (one from each parent) as was done with the Berlin patient.

    Posted by: B.J. Caldwell | May 17, 2011 5:45:37 PM


  3. HIV does not cause AIDS. HIV is merely a marker virus that has been around for millions of years. Viral technologies discovered it some years back and then they gave it the name HIV.

    The diseases associated with AIDS are conventional diseases that occur because of promiscuous behavior (leading to increased STD infection) and poor lifestyles (eg excessive nightclubbing, drug use, lack of sleep etc). Put together, all these cause a chain reaction of progressive immune deficiency.

    Posted by: brian | May 17, 2011 6:13:44 PM


  4. Oh, I hope the follow up is positive-what a miracle that would be!!!

    Posted by: nikko | May 17, 2011 6:17:30 PM


  5. Hmmm, interesting, BRIAN. Sounds believable, although in '93 I remember reading a piece written by an MD that claimed HIV was invented in the lab to wipe out society's undesirables-blacks, gays.etc.

    Posted by: nikko | May 17, 2011 6:22:55 PM


  6. The lunatic ramblings of Brian/Jason continue. We've missed you on the Lady Gaga posts, little buddy.

    Posted by: nodnarb | May 17, 2011 6:24:27 PM


  7. Jesus, the nutjob HIV denialists didn't take long. All that excessive nightclubbing that kills people who've never been nightclubbing, or who aren't sexually promiscuous, or who get great sleep. And of course there are all those superhealthy/fit people who are 100% immune to HIV, right? You never hear of fit people getting HIV. Eyeroll. Tell it to the dead Maggiore child. If AIDS is caused by a preponderance of all those "lifestyle" choices, why do people who get HIV from someone else and don't treat it die?

    Everyone's entitled to his or her opinion, even really stupid opinions, but they're not entitled to polite acceptance of the content of those really stupid opinions.

    Posted by: Matthew Rettenmund | May 17, 2011 6:26:08 PM


  8. Needless to say, if this pans out in the long run, it will give the right-wing that much more urgency in opposing stem cell research. Good heavens--"God's punishment on the fags" can be cured by science. It's the end of the world!

    Posted by: jomicur | May 17, 2011 6:29:20 PM


  9. It's not unusual for some people to have what appears to be a 'miracle'. It happens, just like in some people there's longterm remission. They need a lot more than one guy to prove this.

    And some of what Brian says is true. Most of the symptoms of AIDS are autoimmune diseases. Stress, substance abuse [illegal and legal], poor diet, certain lifestyles [especially poor sleep, promiscuity (yes....many diseases are spread through sex and the more you have, with multiple people or risky practices, the greater your odds and risk for disease) and genetics all greatly contribute to damaging immunity.

    Posted by: ratbastard | May 17, 2011 6:40:39 PM


  10. Brian + Ratbastard ... if there ever two idiots that truly deserved each other. LOL

    Posted by: nodnarb | May 17, 2011 6:52:51 PM


  11. jomicur

    sad lol

    Posted by: mstrozfckslv | May 17, 2011 6:59:29 PM


  12. As a nurse who has been HIV positive for quite a while, who has worked in hospital on a bone marrow/stem cell transplant floor and who works as a research nurse looking at various strategies for a variety of issues associated with HIV...

    All I have to say is the fact that they can't find evidence of HIV in this man is great, but it happened as a result of a SCT that he underwent for lymphoma...and they modified the cells to eliminate coding for the CCR5 receptor (which is one of the receptors HIV needs in order to attach to a CD4 cell). There is still caution around discussing this case, but it appears he has a functional cure.

    HOWEVER...unless I'm given only 6 months to live, I would never just undergo a stem cell transplant. It is a transplant. You are putting someone else's genetic/biologic material into your body. The risks are HUGE! Not having to take HIV medications any more is NOT worth completely ablating your blood cells with chemotherapy and then risking developing graft versus host disease and/or possible graft failure...not to mention the 6-12 months alone it can take to rebuild your immune system so you don't die from opportunistic infections.

    Its great they can't find the virus in this guy...and it's promising that this could lead to a whole bunch of new research. BUT...translate that into a functional treatment modality that isn't worse than what we already have for chronic treatment of HIV.

    Posted by: Jay | May 17, 2011 7:02:09 PM


  13. Jay: Pardon my ignorance but your comment peaked my interest. Is there a way to target an individuals DNA to eliminate coding for the CCR5 receptor without a complete transplant? Targeting specifically the genes involved. This is totally off the wall, I am not in the medical field. I am curious.

    Posted by: PLAINTOM | May 17, 2011 8:09:52 PM


  14. My understanding of this case is that, since CCR5 is needed as a secondary receptor for HIV to infect the host cell...somehow...the investigator did something to these cells to turn off the CCR5 marker. This was done, I think, before the transplant. I'm a nurse, not a scientist, so I don't know all the gory details, but I understand that it is possible to block or turn off or...somehow inactivate the CCR5. That technology is being explore. I think there is something they are looking at called "zinc finger" - again, not a scientist so don't understand what these proteins are all about. But there will be studies coming out looking at zinc fingers in the near future.

    That said, even though I am a STRONG advocate for those of us living with the virus to engage in research, I'm usually wimpy on doing early phase studies myself. I'm not sure I will be first in line for zinc fingers either. Why? We have these chemokine receptors for a reason. So...what happens when we shut them down? What else are we blocking that we may need either now or down the road. Is it reversible? When it comes to these research questions, I LOVE doing these evaluations and working with my brothers and sisters who are braver than I am...but I'm not ready to say: "Hell ya, shoot me up with that stuff!"

    Posted by: Jay | May 17, 2011 8:31:16 PM


  15. It's amazing that he survived the treatment. It's nice to see him walking around and doing as well as he's doing. Kind of overwhelming looking at him and listening. I kept seeing other faces in his face, people I've known that died years ago. I hope when Timothy turns 70, he's still doing television interviews.

    Posted by: MickJr | May 17, 2011 8:55:38 PM


  16. @ Plaintom

    You're thinking like a scientist! Researchers are investigating exactly what you describe--a way to "edit" one's DNA to make their T-cells resistant to HIV infection. Here's a link to a brief article with more info:
    http://www.bionews.org.uk/page_90353.asp

    And here's a page with more in-depth coverage:
    http://news.pennmedicine.org/blog/2011/03/targeted-gene-editing-copies-natural-hiv-resistance.html

    The news of the "Berlin Patient" is certainly exciting, and hopefully it will encourage more research to one day find a cure that works for the 33.1+ million people living with HIV around the world.

    Posted by: Andrew | May 17, 2011 9:06:40 PM


  17. I just finished a massive review of the research leading to this functional cure for my human genetics class. Just wanted to throw out three things I learned that have been a little misconstrued in some of the press I've seen.

    1) It's actually HIV-resistance rather than complete immunity. There's another strain of the HIV (called X4)that can still sometimes infect a person's immune cells sometimes (though rare).

    2) While having this genetic trait makes you resistant to HIV infection (e.g. people with lots of exposure to HIV not becoming positive), it can also have some negative consequences or risks, many of which are unknown, as Jay hinted at. For example, there's one 2006 study that shows people with this genetic makeup are much more likely to have severe West Nile Virus infection (if infected), which can cause severe brain damage and be lethal. So there needs to be some more investigation into the safety of using this genetic resistance in gene therapy.

    3) This rare genetic trait has been around long before the bubonic/black plague (it's been found in skeletons from nearly 3,000 years ago) but there's considerable debate and uncertainty about why in some countries (e.g. northern Europe) about 10% of people have it whereas in other countries it's not common at all.

    There's thousands of pages of research on this fascinating topic... and still a ton more to learn, but often, a lot of it gets lost in translation from research to the press. Hope this helps!

    Posted by: studious | May 17, 2011 9:26:16 PM


  18. Mr. Brown's 'cure' is most likely more a fluke than anything, with much of it to do with his genetic make-up and stem cell transplant.

    Posted by: ratbastard | May 17, 2011 10:22:28 PM


  19. Dear "Brian" - F U, I would so kick your ignorant ass if you were in front of me. You and your idiot friends are dancing on the graves of my Lover and friends with your retarded concepts.
    After all this time to have to suffer fools like yourself, is almost as bad as having to live through watching everyone around you die. You should be ashamed of your self. Try looking into that pathetic black heart of yours and justify the nerve to open your stupid mouth. I wish you every evil my mouth can not speak.

    Posted by: booka | May 18, 2011 1:33:53 AM


  20. Seems far-fetched.

    And sexual tolerance and self-respect for people of all orientations shouldn't be less of a goal if it did become real. Also HIV is not a "gay" disease--different from saying that HIV among a narrow band of gay men is not a problem that the gay and gay-friendly communities should not take seriously. A cure would be great. I'm just saying that the issues here are bigger than a cure. And AIDs is a worldwide menace.

    The Catholic Pope and his influence effectively kill untold numbers every day because HE (the Pope) refuses to advocate condom use, reproductive rights, and RESPECT for sexual orientation variation.

    Just sayin.

    @Brian: Idiot, sorry. Please. Leave. Or stay--cuz I think you could learn a thing or two by sticking around.

    @Booka: I appreciate you sharing. And regarding the HIV-positive community (whether straight OR gay), I also don't see why the notions of sexual self-respect I note above shouldn't apply to those facing an unfortunate and still-disastrous HIV diagnosis. But I DO believe we should all do whatever is in our power to prevent the spread of such diseases. (Oh, and I don't think that most "religious" leaders actually know much at all about that topic.)

    And I think sex is kick-ass. And more kick-ass when practiced with personal and realistic discretion about what REALLy satisfies in life (i.e. SO many things beyond lots of sex partners). Just my two cents I guess. I'm trying to be honest and not dully moralistic...

    Posted by: just_a_guy | May 18, 2011 4:34:14 AM


  21. I really thought that views like those espoused by Brian were a thing we'd moved beyond. I mean really. Nightclubbing, lack of sleep, and drug use give you a specific disease? It boggles the mind.

    Of course unsafe promiscuity is risky. That's how you catch HIV. Why do I even have to spell this out? What kind of judgmental fantasy land are you living in? You sound like the doctors who in 1981 were saying that poppers caused unexplained gay deaths.

    Why am I even writing this?

    Posted by: Paul R | May 18, 2011 8:19:18 AM


  22. I can only hope that this is true! But we can't celebrate until it is proven and accessible to all.

    Posted by: Jim | May 18, 2011 11:32:15 AM


  23. Here is the first man to be cured of HIV- AIDS real or fake news if it is happened then try out to others aids patients to:)

    Posted by: Neha | May 25, 2011 11:23:15 AM


  24. Good evening to all. Lifestyle does not cause AIDS. AIDS is cause by HIV and it affects people with good and decent lifestyles. Good people like me. At this moment I have not gotten tested but ill do it tomorrow. I hope I dont have it but I have many little tings that got me worry. I am not gay, I dont do drugs, I dont particular like nightclubs and I always get a good night sleep. The simple fact is that maybe I got it from a relationship I had 6 years back or from my dentist. I hope I dont cuss that would mean my wife has it to and that would kill me. by the way I have only been with 3 women in my life not because I dont have the chance its just because I was careful. It only took one little slip years ago or a visit to a dentist and that's it. All of you good night take care.

    Posted by: Raymond | Sep 27, 2011 2:29:17 AM


  25. Great advance towards the cure of AIDS but this is still the very beginning.

    Posted by: Frases Romanticas | Feb 17, 2012 12:35:40 PM


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