On the heels of World AIDS Day comes a stunning medical breakthrough: Doctors believe an HIV-positive man who underwent a stem cell transplant has been cured as a result of the procedure.
Timothy Ray Brown, also known as the “Berlin Patient,” received the transplant in 2007 as part of a lengthy treatment course for leukemia. His doctors recently published a report in the journal Blood affirming that the results of extensive testing “strongly suggest that cure of HIV infection has been achieved.”
This is hardly news; here’s a Wall Street Journal article about it from 2008:
The breakthrough appears to be that Dr. Hütter, a soft-spoken hematologist who isn’t an AIDS specialist, deliberately replaced the patient’s bone marrow cells with those from a donor who has a naturally occurring genetic mutation that renders his cells immune to almost all strains of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Strangely, none of the coverage I’ve seen today (which points back to the Huffington Post article that links to a recent medical journal article on the treatment) highlights this salient fact:
deliberately replaced the patient’s bone marrow cells with those from a donor
Those stem cells were adult stem cells, not embryonic stem cells.
Take a look at the comment sections where people are celebrating the publication of this old finding and are also doing their best to bash George W. Bush and other people who oppose funding for or who oppose actual embryonic stem cell research. We need to amplify and clarify the source of these stem cells and this treatment to educate the public about this efficacy of adult stem cell therapies.
Otherwise, parts of the public will remain ignorant and might be encouraged to pursue policies that their countrymen find morally abhorrent to fund research of unproven avenues of medicine.
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