Two patients thought to be cured of HIV after undergoing bone marrow treatment have shown traces of infection again, according to Boston researchers.
Presenting at the international conference of AIDS researchers in Floriday Thursday, Dr. Timothy Henrich of Brigham and Women’s Hospital said the new data can dramatically contribute to advancing strategies to fight off the virus, the Boston Globe reports.
Henrich said the reemergence of the virus demonstrates that HIV reservoirs — latent cells that carry the genetic code of HIV — are lurking deeper in the body and are more persistent than scientists had realized. Both patients treated cancer with bone marrow transplants several years ago paused their antiretroviral medications for seven and 15 weeks this year, during which the virus appeared to be completely undetectable until August.
The Boston team is now reviewing data to determine why one patient was able to remain virus-free for eight months, looking at things like whether age at time of infection or the manner of infection played a part.